The changing colors of leaves on treetops, the turning of clocks backward, and decreasing light levels tells our bodies and minds that fall is here and winter is coming.
Disrupted sleep habits caused by Daylight Savings Time, holiday social events, and decreasing sunlight exposure can have you feeling tired, stressed, or depressed.
Many people experience a seasonal mood change or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) around the time the seasons are changing. Psychology Today explains that SAD is estimated to affect 10 million people in the United States and is experienced four times as much among women than men.
Preparation = Success
If you’ve experienced seasonal depression or sadness before you may know how to see it coming and can brace for impact; yet if you’ve never experienced it before it may sideswipe you. However, if you can prepare for it by coming up with a self-care plan, the better chance you have of managing it.
Make A Self-Care Plan
With clocks being set an hour back and increasingly lower light levels during the fall and winter, Melatonin spikes make people more tired and moody. Counteract this time warp by planning ahead.
Set a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to start winding down for sleep and make it a point to get up at a predictable time as well. Time conditioning will help your mind and body get on the same page during this adjustment period. Make sure not to sleep in too late on the weekends, this can unintentionally throw you off schedule.
Sometimes our lives can feel like a rollercoaster we can’t get off of. Scheduling our lives from work to play and our go-go-go mentalities can have us become overwhelmed versions of ourselves.
Take the time to sit and breathe by using a VR Meditation app like Skill Master VR to learn meditation and surround yourself with rejuvenating imagery and music. Or, try meditating and breathing in a virtual garden or go to space by using the House of Meditation VR app to help you regain inner peace and strength.
Exercise and be social.
Exercising may seem like the last thing you’d want to do, but trust us, it helps. Getting your body moving and your blood pumping has been proven to boost the body’s feel-good chemical serotonin and can help you boost zapped energy levels.
Ask a friend to join you in an uplifting round of Soundboxing where you’ll be punching robots to your favorite music. Or try out Sprint Vector to get your heart pumping as you race and jump around a virtual track for some friendly competition and some mood-lifting laughs. Take a look at our collection of VR fitness games for more cardio and strength-focused workouts to add to your exercise plan.
Are you eating too much or not enough? Are you losing muscle tone or gaining weight? Are you reaching for comfort foods like fast food, candy, cookies, and soda instead of whole foods like lean meats, veggies, and fruit? Experiencing sadness, depression, and anxiety can heavily influence the choices you’re making at meal time. Now’s the time to take control or plan ahead.
Make moves now to help you succeed in the future by food prepping healthy meals with a friend or partner, keeping a list of fast-food restaurants that serve healthy options, or by ordering groceries online. Do you like to play games and snack? Keep snack sized veggies and fruit around to munch on.
Drinking alcohol and soda is a quick way to make you feel more depressed, dehydrated, and lethargic. Our bodies depend on water to survive, but without daily replenishing, you can exacerbate physical and mental issues.
Think about it — you’re stressed, you’re not drinking enough water, and your body responds with more stress. Stay hydrated and keep a bottle of water handy. Add flavor to your water by infusing it with fresh fruit, lemon, and herbs.
Experts have shown that decreased amounts of light can cause a Vitamin D deficiency and mood changes. Long work hours or a hectic schedule may leave you with little to no time for yourself let alone time to go outside. Some people do well by taking a Vitamin D supplement or by taking breaks outside.
If you can carve out the time to go for a walk with a friend or coworker, try using an AR app on your smartphone. We suggest downloading augmented reality apps like Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Zombies, Run! to motivate you as you walk or run. Or try shooting some hoops outside during your work break with the new NBA AR app.
Coming up with a self-care plan will help you take care of yourself, can help you help others, and will hopefully help you feel more empowered if you’re suffering from SAD symptoms.
If you need someone to talk to go here to Psych Central’s list of helpful hotlines.