Winterize Your Mental Health

It’s November and we just fell backwards… well time did anyways. We have reset our clocks and the hours of daylight are getting shorter and shorter. For many people, winter is a time of regression and disappointment. We often put ourselves into a quandary because everything inside of them wants to maintain their summer motivation; however, our bodies just will not follow suit. As we start to wake up to the cold darkness, our motivation to get out of bed to start a productive day is getting more difficult the deeper we get into winter. The winter months can be very hard to stay focused on personal and professional goals because the decreased amount of light that is available seems to deplete our energy levels, alertness, and motivation much faster than it did in the summer. It often becomes harder to accomplish the tasks while keeping a positive attitude that we once had just a few short months ago when we woke up to sunshine and watched the same sun go down sometimes 45 minutes before we went to bed. But back to reality: It’s almost winter time and we need to take the necessary steps to avoid possible winter Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition that results in depression in the winter months.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter are often similar to those of depression:

• Feelings of hopelessness
• Lethargy
• Difficulty concentrating
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Unhappiness
• Weight gain
• Reduced sexual interest

Common treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder:

• Counseling and therapy
• Light therapy
Minimizing Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms:
• Regular sleep
• Healthy Diet
• Exercise

The strategies to minimize Seasonal Affective Disorder seem simple but are often easier said than done. Regular sleep is hard to get when you are not as active and it is hard to be active when you are not getting the appropriate nutrients and the vicious cycle begins. It is easy to tell someone: “just exercise and eat good foods and all of your problems will just go away”. But what happens when we struggle to find the motivation to implement those changes? What happens when the mental barriers keep overriding our desires and goals? In order to identify and overcome these barriers, one must take an active role in their mental health. Counseling or therapy is most effective when it comes to making life changes and increasing and maintaining the motivation to accomplish all of our goals. A good counselor will be able to listen to your concerns and help you make positive changes by identifying and magnifying your strengths to help you overcome the mental barriers that inhibit you from accomplishing your goals. It is important for everyone to know that many people struggle with feeling unmotivated and often put their personal and professional lives on hold until they spring forward. Think of how far ahead you will be when you develop and maintain that summer motivation for all 12 months of the year. There are counselors that are starting to offer services in different venues; making it more convenient for individuals who have circumstances that prevent them from attending appointments in an office setting. There has been an increase in telephonic counseling, home counseling, and using technology; such as email and Skype.

If you struggle to find or maintain the motivation in your personal or professional life during the winter season, you can have tremendous success by talking to a counselor and working together to make your winter a happy, healthy, and productive season. I would urge you to do your research when choosing the right counselor for you. It is disheartening when you spend multiple sessions with a counselor, doctor, or any professional and not feel a connection and comfort to make changes. Every person deserves to be happy and healthy; especially if they are willing to work for it.