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Almost all of the clients I work with experience some sort of negative shift during the fall and winter.  Whether it’s seasonal affective disorder, or mild winter blues, this negative shift can cause issues like isolating, low mood, feeling sad, low energy levels, difficulty getting up in the morning, feeling very tired earlier in the day, and difficulty being productive.  Because of the potential to experience these negative consequences, it’s important to learn and understand different techniques for addressing the negative shift that often begins in the fall and continues until spring.

One of the first coping skills for dealing with this negative shift is to accept that it is normal and be compassionate towards yourself for experiencing it.  It may be unrealistic to expect yourself to have as much energy as you do during the summer when the sun is in full force for many more hours than it is in the winter.  Many people do not get as much vitamin D from the sun in the fall and winter as they do in the spring and summer because they are not spending as much time outside and because the sun is not out for as many hours. This means that another coping skill for dealing with the negative shift is to try and spend at least 15 minutes outside each day, even if it means having to bundle yourself up and brave the cold.

Since isolation and not engaging in enjoyable activities are often problems associated with this negative seasonal shift, try to keep a calendar where you can schedule at least one social activity and one hobby each week. Neither of these activities have to be very big. Social activities can range from spending time on the phone with a family member, to going out to eat with a friend, to hosting a gathering at your house.  You can decide how big of an activity you have energy and time for.  You can also use the fall and winter to take advantage of time you may not have available to you in the spring and summer.  Have you been wanting to try a pottery class? Maybe you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to learn a new instrument? The fall and winter affords you the perfect reason to spend time growing these new indoor hobbies.

If you find that this negative seasonal shift is becoming difficult to manage, you may want to consider working with a therapist. Therapists can provide you with additional coping skills for managing your negative seasonal shift.  They can also assess for and treat more serious mental health issues like depression. If you’d like to work with a therapist to address your winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, or depression, contact Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare today.

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