Gloomy winter days affect us all differently, and it can sometimes bring on feelings of depression. The phenomenon is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Symptoms include fatigue, a pervasively sad mood, loss of interest, difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping, and feelings of hopelessness or despair.
When daylight hours decrease and cold temps set in, many people may find themselves experiencing symptoms resembling depression. Tempers may seem shorter for parents or caregivers stuck inside with cranky or sick children, and an increased sense of exhaustion is not uncommon.
Tips to manage seasonal affective disorder (SAD):
Soak up the sun! A lack of sun exposure in winter months is part of what causes SAD, so soaking up as much sunlight as possible can lessen your symptoms. Sit by a window or get out for a brisk walk during daytime hours, outside of your home or office. Even if only for 5-10 minutes, being under natural rays can help.
Engage in high energy indoor activities. A lot of winter blues come from feeling stuck indoors. Exercise is helpful for all types of depression, as it increases the production of endorphins in the body, which make you feel good. Despite the cold weather, you can still create opportunities for play, growth, and making connections by:
Use of aromatherapy and essential oils. It is scientifically proven that certain scents affect our brains and bodies in different ways. Lavender is often associated with sleep and calmness. Eucalyptus, peppermint, cedarwood, and citrus based scents have qualities to increase energy and wakefulness. Consult with your care provider if anyone in your home is experiencing allergies.
Let yourself and your children slow down. Use winter weather as a reason to do all the things you wish you could do when life is too busy: read books you’ve wanted to read and start projects you’ve wanted to start. By giving yourself permission to slow down, you might find more motivation to get back up with greater ease.
Lastly, seek professional help. If you continue to struggle with feelings of depression, you may want to seek help from a medical or mental health professional. Research shows that psychotherapy is an effective treatment and may have more long-term benefits than other types of therapy.
In addition to balancing a child’s needs, parents and caregivers must maintain their own mental health during tough times. Remember that you cannot care for yourself. By setting aside time for self-care, seeking the help you need, and being flexible with your personal rules or expectations, you can model healthy behaviors for children in your care and feel properly energized in return.