Summer is a distant memory. The warm streams of sunshine on the skin, a carefree easy life. We’re then suddenly thrust back to reality, as Fall strikes. Everyone and everything becomes serious, as there’s a scent of pumpkin spice lattes, warm cozy sweaters, and getting out the snow boots.
What’s extremely difficult for many, is the drastic shift in weather. Some have a hard time adjusting to these seasonal changes, as the cold breeze suddenly makes one feel stressed and alone. The reality is that for many, the transition into the Fall season is a difficult one, making the cold winter that’s ahead, too daunting to face.
Just becoming mindful of this, understanding why seasonal changes can be challenging and difficult, can do is help you devise strategies, since you should be enjoying yourself, as it’s the most festive time of year.
Don’t Look So SAD
What many face, especially those living in areas of drastic temperature change, experiencing hot summer and then cold snowy winters, is a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD is seasonal depression, where the mind and body can’t adjust to this weather change. Some in the medical community, think it’s related to the outdoor changes of light levels.
There are some however, who also develops SAD symptoms during the summer months, so its cause isn’t completely understood. What experiencing SAD usually does, is adjusts itself as the season continues, Symptoms include lethargy, mild to debilitating depression.
The good news is it’s treatable, as what’s often prescribed is light therapy, more outdoor activity, and at times medication. It’s natural for anyone to feel a shift in mood once the weather changes, so it helps to prepare for it, as SAD is usually the culprit.
Adjusting To Daylight Savings Time
What “falling back” means is getting that extra hour. What it also means is one extra hour of darkness added at the end of the day. Although it’s just an hour, clinicians are discovering how Daylight Savings Time, can affect mental and physical health.
For everyone, especially children, it disrupts their daily routine, as what’s required is getting up an hour earlier. The extra hour of darkness, combined with those experiencing SAD, worsens the feeling.
This affects ones moodiness, as there’s a decrease in natural vitamin D from the sun. What’s found is getting adequate levels of this vitamin, is key for a variety of basic bodily processes. It’s insufficiency, is linked to depression.
Less Access To Natural Light
So what results is the volatile cocktail of colder darker weather causing SAD for those living in the Northern hemisphere, combined with Daylight Savings Time, which results in spending less time outdoors in natural sunlight.
What all this does is alters one’s well-being, as the circadian rhythms are altered, resulting in some feeling less optimistic, and more tired and listless during the winter months, even if they’re not depressed.
This lack of adequate daylight, affects food intake and hunger levels. So the weight gain experienced during the holidays, are partly responsible because of the hunger pangs from the brain, and not just the availability of cookies and eggnog.
Holiday Traditions With Family
What the media portrays is the festive season as full of joy, that everyone gets along, holding hands and singing Christmas carols, with loving supportive family.
This fantasy is as fake as the kids discovering Santa Claus isn’t real. In real life, most have on going disputes with certain family members.
It’s the holiday season, where all family members assemble, where sibling rivalry and disputes with mean Uncle Joe, resumes.
For those who have recently lost loved ones, cherished holiday traditions spurs memories of holidays past, which triggers guilt, grief, and all their painful emotions.
Then there’s the pressure to be happy during the holidays, for those who struggles with loss, family disputes, or feeling ashamed and saddened that their holidays aren’t “perfect,” like what’s portray on TV.
Put On A Happy Face
For everyone, Fall steamrolls into the holidays, which are supposed to be happy fun times. They’re fun, but also a lot of work. The pressure to appear happy, can become overwhelming.
There’s all the planning, meals to prepare, perfect gifts to buy, and the endless events to attend, all with a smile.
Skip out on anything, then you feel guilty, that you’re a party pooper. Attempting to do it all, results in exhaustion and emotional turmoil.
Managing Stress This Time Of Year
Stress isn’t an inevitability as the seasons change. It’s a byproduct of how you choose to live your life. So by becoming more mindful, you can alter it’s course.
For those afflicted by SAD, dragged down by the hectic activities, or the constant family conflicts, it’s time to take a step back.
This to balance the fine line of managing minor stress, which can turn into major depression. Know there are effective strategies, that can pull you through.
Start by making a list of priorities for the season. Decide to do the things you enjoy. Find ways to get access to plenty of natural light, this by spending more time outdoors, or finding a sun lamp.
Maintain a routine schedule. Don’t oversleep or miss yoga class because of the colder weather. Start new family traditions, especially if there’s family conflict, or loved ones who may have passed.
Take care of yourself first. Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, five days per week. Make sure you eat healthy, get plenty of rest, decide to minimize.
What seasonal change signals is stress for many, so don’t allow it to affect you this year. Be mindful, protect your mental health, and allow the transition from Fall to winter, be enjoyable.