Fall has arrived!
'Tis the season for pumpkin spiced lattes, cozy sweaters and making that butternut squash soup recipe you've been holding on to since last October.
It's also the season where some might experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This recurring form of depression can creep into your life with the sudden drop in temperatures and your exposure to sunlight. It's important to recognize SAD symptoms during recovery. Let's take a look at what can trigger SAD and some healthy ways you can cope while managing sobriety.
SAD symptoms often start mild and become more severe as the fall season progresses. A decrease in your exposure to sunlight can throw off your body's biological clock (circadian rhythm), which can disrupt your sleep schedule and result in low energy levels. Less sunlight can also cause a drop in your serotonin, which is associated with mood regulation and social behaviour. The season change can also unbalance your melatonin levels, which plays a vital role in overall mood and sleep patterns.
Some of the signs/symptoms of SAD may include:
- Feeling depressed throughout the day, nearly every day.
- Losing interest in activities you previously enjoyed.
- Low energy levels and feeling sluggish.
- Having problems with sleep and sleep consistency.
- Having difficulty concentrating.
- A feeling of hopelessness, unworthiness or guilt.
- Experiencing frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Increased cravings for foods that are high in carbohydrates.
- Weight gain.
Because SAD is a form of depression, it's essential to talk to a medical professional about options/treatment available. Here are some additional ways you can help ease the impacts of Seasonal Affective Disorder during recovery.
Create a daily/weekly/monthly schedule of activities that keep you busy and bring you joy.
Be consistent. Set a non-negotiable bedtime for yourself and stick to it. Go for an afternoon walk, even though you may not feel like it. Have one spoon full of sugar in your morning coffee instead of two—little and consistent changes to improve your overall wellness can make a big difference.
Self-care is critical to treating SAD. Engage in self-nourishing activities that help take care of your mental, emotional and physical health. Take a few minutes every day to engage in something that enables you to relax, recharge, and feel loved/appreciated.
Gratitude is a great way to boost your positivity and it FEELS GOOD! Take a few minutes each morning to write down one thing you are grateful for. Try not to overthink it but be intentional with your gratitude.
Get as much natural light as possible. Keep blinds open during the day, rearrange mirrors in the room to reflect light, add plants to your environment and wear colours that reflect positive feelings.
It's frustrating when environmental factors beyond your control can create additional challenges during recovery. If you suspect SAD is impacting your recovery in any way, seek help from a medical professional and know that you are not alone.
Your courage. Our help. Your recovery.