CONQUERING THE WINTER BLUES (SAD)
This month, many people celebrate Valentine’s Day. Couples do lovely things for one another and honor their loving connections. There is another population who are not as excited about this holiday. In fact, it adds to their feelings of being unlovable and unloved. When holidays fall in the winter, they are often compounding feelings we don’t realize we are feeling.
For 30+ years, I’ve served as a counselor and coach. I have witnessed many clients move through challenging times in the winter. They speak about being tired, moody, less active and even suffering from mild depression. They quite literally say they have the “winter blues”.
I was sharing this information with a colleague lately, and she told me about SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Mayo Clinic defines Seasonal Affective Disorder as a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. They further share that most people with SAD have symptoms that start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping energy and making people feel moody. This information got my attention because I became aware some years ago that I had to work harder in the winter or cold and rainy times to keep my center.
I started to do some research, and I want to share with you how to identify these symptoms and how you might transcend THE WINTER BLUES. (READ MORE)
DEFINITION AND SYMPTOMS OF SAD
I was amazed by how many sites refer to SAD and are quite clear about how we can identify the symptoms and act. Though most people experience it in the winter months, some people feel it during the spring and summer, too.
Psychology Today shares the following symptoms:
- Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Hypersomnia or a tendency to oversleep
- A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
Other research tells us that in SAD there are abnormal neurotransmitter levels. The leading theory is a lack of sunlight affects the workings of the hypothalamus which in turn affects the formation of neurotransmitters, chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other.
- People experiencing winter depression typically have low levels of serotonin and high levels of melatonin. Serotonin is considered the “happiness molecule” that plays a vital role in mood, learning, memory, appetite regulation, and sleep.
BENEFITS OF WINTER BLUES
I believe any change of state in our emotional life is a call to pay attention and to pause. There is something that wants to be addressed and supported. Often people just give in to the feelings and feel like victims. A pool of negative thoughts patterns takes over, and people become immobilized.
I say this is the time to ask some valuable questions:
- When did I start feeling this way?
- When was the last time I felt this way?
- Is there any place in my life where I think that I am avoiding pain or conflict?
- What support do I need to move forward positively?
WORKING WITH MY CLIENTS
When I am working with clients with Winter Blues symptoms, the first thing we do is identify their experience. Then we begin to create a plan to move them back to their normal states of harmony. The work can take some time, but once clients get clear about what is occurring and how to manage it, life gets more comfortable.
Most of my clients express Winter Blues symptoms as:
- Low energy and sleeping more than usual.
- Feeling apathetic and unmotivated.
- Feeling isolated and unhappy.
- Less interested in friends and activities they usually enjoy.
- Feel irritable, moody, and detached in relationships.
- Overeat, weight gain, and cravings for carbohydrates.
TOOLS FOR TRANSFORMING SAD
I invite my clients to take the following steps:
- Brighten up their environments. Open the curtains and blinds, sit closer to windows and get out in the sunlight whenever possible.
- Listen to uplifting music. There is excellent research on how the brain responds to happy music.
- Dance! Something is compelling about turning on your favorite music and moving your body for 5-10 minutes.
- Look at your diet. Recognize when you are craving carbohydrates and sugar and have healthy substitutes at home and in the office.
- Move into service, being of support for others
- Take a trip to a quiet place, a sacred pilgrimage site or spa experience.
Love and Light,
If you have dreamed of a more fulfilling, abundant life, I can help. I regularly present to crowds across the U.S., and worldwide, and would love to meet you in person. You may also choose to join me for one of my spectacular events for women. Next month I am launching a new self-directed class on Self Care Mastery, and it may support you in handling shifts in your life experiences. I invite you to learn more via my website: CynthiaJames.net
Cynthia James is a transformational coach at cynthiajames.net. Cynthia helps women connect more deeply with their authentic selves, so they can create more prosperous fuller lives. If you want to transform your life into the one you’ve always dreamed of, learn more about Cynthia’s life-changing in-person events.