As the days shorten and grey skies become increasingly common overhead, it’s not unusual to feel a sense of foreboding and low mood. It’s hardly surprising that as the much looked forward too summer months fade into memory and the prospect of a long cold winter approach, that some of us feel deflated. These feelings often get worse in January and February, as the days get shorter still and there’s less of a festive spirit in the air.
But as many know, the difference between a passing low mood, and a more entrenched depressive episode or an instance of seasonal affected disorder (SAD) is great. The latter can become debilitating conditions, which inhibit functioning in life and may mean increased risk of addiction or even suicide.
Fortunately, there are an increasing number of ways of combating depression and low mood:
- Studies have shown that savouring positive emotions can have a significant effect on well-being. Savouring might involve keeping a gratitude diary, looking at the blocks to accepting positivity, or meeting with a therapist who helps to reflect the positive in your life back to you.
- There’s increasing evidence that mindfulness based interventions, including mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy (MCBT) and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) provide both short term positive changes in stress and well-being measures, but also that they may influence neural pathways.
- Many other self-care practices can help: from managing alcohol and caffeine intake, to eating a balanced diet and ensuring exercise is regular.
Talking to an accredited psychotherapist can also help. If you’re suffering from the winter blues or you’re finding SAD difficult to cope with, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.