Another nor'easter is headed toward New York City. With 4 to 8 inches of snow looming on the first day of spring, you might feel like you're slipping into the winter blues. You're not alone. After months of cold and gray weather, it's common for New Yorkers to experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression that occurs specifically during certain seasons of the year. The change in daylight hours can spark hormonal changes and throw off your circadian rhythm. If you're experiencing any of the following symptoms, it's time to prioritize your mental health.
Common Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- depressed mood or irritability
- fatigue or loss of energy
- change in appetite
- weight loss or gain
- change in sleep
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- thoughts of death or suicide
While Seasonal Affective Disorder can improve in time as the weather shifts and days length with the arrival of spring, you can take steps now to kickstart your health. If you're stuck in a pattern of feeling down here are a few ways to help you manage your emotions this week:
1. Get moving
With the winter cold, exercise routines can easily fall by the wayside. It's difficult to get to the gym through inches of snow and hard to be active outside when the temperature drops. But remember that exercise is critical to your mental health in addition to all of its benefits for you physically. If you can't make it to your favorite local gym, pick up an exercise routine at home. Try a meditative exercise like yoga (try Yogaglo online) if you lack space or download an app to guide you through a quick high intensity workout you can do from your living room. In just 30 minutes you can make a radical difference in your affect.
2. Let in some light
Natural light is hard to come by in the concrete jungle of New York. However, sunlight is an important ingredient to help beat the winter blues. Maximize what access to natural light you do have. Open your curtains or blinds to let in as much sunshine as you can. Then turn on lamps around your home and office to to help improve your mood. If you want to go the extra mile, purchase a simple sun lamp to improve your mood and reset your circadian rhythm.
3. Connect with loved ones
While a night out on the town might be harder to arrange, get creative about investing in quality time with close friends or family members. Invite friends over for a warm potluck meal. Or bake some cookies and drop them off to a neighbor next door in your apartment as an excuse to say hello. Small moments of connection can work wonders at changing your mood. If the elements outside make travel dangerous and prohibitive, schedule a Skype or phone date with a friend.
4. Reach out for help
If you suspect that your sadness is more than seasonal or your symptoms of depression are beginning to worsen, speak to a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible. Connecting with a trained professional can help you move toward health today and gain tools needed to manage future seasonal dips.
For a free consultation with a Healthy Minds NYC care coordinator, call (929) 399-7120 or contact us today. We're here to help!