How the seasons impact your emotional stability

Posted 11/1/19

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

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How the seasons impact your emotional stability

Posted

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

Dear Dr. Ted:

As the cold has arrived and the days are getting shorter, I find myself feeling rather depressed and anxious at the same time. Is this due to the weather or am I just making this up?

Thanks, Ronnie

Dear Ronnie:

Your question is valid and something that comes up often this time of the year.

Of course, I don't know your personal situation, what you are experiencing and it is always worthwhile to check in with your professionals if you are concerned for your well-being and health. I am impressed with how you are tracking your emotional ups and downs. Whenever you have a radical change in mental or physical health, it is good to go in for a "tuneup" and have your doctor make sure all is OK. Your physical and mental states are always trying to normalize the world around you.

During radical changes such as seasons, your system may become disrupted, causing turbulence within your psyche. As there are external changes, your internal system becomes agitated and tries to adjust. When these types of shifts happen, your brain may become more hypervigilant due to a feeling of being vulnerable as change happens.

With this vulnerability, you may find yourself more irritated, anxious and depressed. This is called seasonal adjustment (affective) disorder, in which your system is trying to find a new status quo and feel comfortable within the change of time, temperature and light.

Seasonal affective disorder is often categorized as a type of depression and can decrease enjoyment in your regular activities. This is common and if recognized and accepted, you may find certain ways to help navigate your emotional "winter blues" through conscious actions.

Consistent exercise and diet can improve your physical health while increasing your endorphins,

which help increase positive feelings and more energy. Planning activities that take you out of high levels of isolation and connect with others can help decrease the depressive slide. Making future plans will help you look forward to something and keep you moving through the darker times.

Whenever possible, get outside and get some sunshine - this helps break you out of your metaphorical and realistic cave. Bundling up and getting outside can break the monotony of feeling captured within your house.

When inside, let light into your house as the light helps decrease those winter blues. It is also worthwhile to avoid poor eating habits, alcohol and drugs or other detrimental behaviors that will lead to higher depression. In taking personal actions, you may find it worthwhile to find external supports such as light therapy, mental health care, possibly a doctor, bodywork (massage, reiki and other body modalities), spiritual care and any other way you can give self-care/love to help you during emotional distress.

Finding actions to help decrease futility and negative behaviors will help you make it through the winter blues.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com.

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