The Truth About Seasonal Depression & Ways You Can be Proactive Year to Year.
It’s about that time again; the holiday season. The season that should* bring people joy & happiness. Yet it seems to bring most* people stress & anxiety. Which in the medical world is referred to as “seasonal depression.”
I’ve been “depressed” myself, so my words are not from judgment, rather honesty. Depression, just like stress & anxiety, is self inflicted. Meaning the root cause is nothing more than your continuous decision to stay the same. Stay at the same job. Stay in the same relationship. Stay in the same circle of friends. Continue eating the same, living the same & being the same.
All these are choices & if the outcome of those choices does not make you happy. If the outcome causes feelings of depression; why would you continue making the same choices? It sounds “simple”- because it is simple. Make different choices.
Before I dive into the science behind seasonal depression let me remind you of this…
The seasons have changed every year, at the same exact time since the day you were born & they will continue to change, every year, at the same time, till the day you die. If you don’t learn how to mentally, physically & emotionally navigate through these seasons, you’ll never sustain any* progress you make; mentally, physically or emotionally.
Let’s talk science.
Season changes can* play a role in seasonal depression & being that you cannot control the seasons, you must understand how/why they play a role, so you can directly address the variables in your control.
During fall & winter the amount of sunlight available in a 24 hour period is reduced. This throws off your circadian rhythm: AKA your internal clock. Many daily feelings & emotions rely on your circadian rhythm to be optimal. Happiness. Motivation. Energy. Hunger. Anxiety. Ability to sleep, lose weight, focus clearly. All these feelings & emotions require hormones- all controlled partly by your circadian rhythm.
Sunlight provides Vitamin D. Which increases the production of serotonin; the brain chemicals that makes you happy. Less sunlight- equals less Vitamin D- equals less serotonin- equals less happy hormones. This directly affects your body’s production of melatonin. The brain chemicals that play a role in sleep patterns & the feeling of calmness.
Seasonal changes also reduce people’s motivation to exercise; being that it’s dark when you wake up & when get home from daily obligations.
My advice to you if seasonal depression is something you struggle with is; be proactive. These feelings & emotions will not disappear on their own. You have to intentionally take action to reduce/eliminate these emotions from controlling your life.
6 ways to be proactive with Seasonal Depression.
1️⃣ Understand the science behind why you have these feelings (mentioned above). This allows you to stay ahead of this inevitable time of year.
2️⃣ Take vitamin D supplements daily. There’s no harm in taking vitamin D all year long. In the spring & summer, when you spend more time outside, you’ll just be happier.
3️⃣ Build a morning & night routine that makes you feel good. So no matter what season it is, you do the same “feel good routines” daily. Not because you have* to, rather because, you just want* to feel good.
4️⃣ Get in an exercise routine. So if/when you skip a day of exercise for any reason, you immediately feel the effects; mentally, physically & emotionally. These “feel good feelings” will keep you showing up through all seasons of life.
5️⃣ Change your diet. Your daily food choices indirectly* cause feelings of depression.
Meaning, your daily food choices cause you to look & feel the way you do. When you don’t like the way you look & feel, feelings of depression increase. Notice, every tip here is to help you chase feelings*, not one is to “lose weight”. “Weight” is not a feeling. You can weigh 120 pounds with a 6 pack or 300 pounds with diabetes & have the same feelings of depression. I see it daily.
My last tip & your call to action.
6️⃣ Focus on current habits that make you feel good & current habits that make you feel bad. Choose one habit that makes you feel bad & take intentional action to break that habit.
This action might be replace the time* you spend doing the bad habit, with doing a good habit. Then make this choice* every day until the good habit has replaced the bad habit completely.
Personal example of replacing time. In 2011, I realized replacing food with alcohol was not an “equal” swap & that my efforts to achieve the body I wanted would continue being a waste of time until I eliminated alcohol from my daily life.
I joined a 24 hour gym so I could replace time normally spent at bars & drinking alcohol, with a habit I knew would serve my body & goals (working out). The more often I replaced that time, the more progress I made & the more easy it became to turn down opportunities to drink. Not because I no longer like to drink, rather I finally gave myself enough time to feel how good it felt, not to drink & I liked that more.
In conclusion, seasonal depression does not* require antidepressants to overcome. It requires knowledge, understanding, awareness & changes to likely every area of your life. Every single one of you, just like myself, can get off antidepressants if you want* to. The first step is to decide you want* to. Then the second step is choosing how to.
If you’re interested in my 1:1 Whole Body Health Coaching program, fill out the application linked below. Schedule your free call with me & let’s talk about specifically* what you can do, starting today to feel, look & be your best self, every single day.