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Embrace the Light: 5 Strategies for Seasonal Mental Health


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via Instagram / Solange Knowles


A 2018 study from Science Daily found that Black and Latinx Americans are significantly more likely to experience serious depression than white Americans so as the colder months approach and daylight hours dwindle, many of us find ourselves grappling with seasonal depression. The lack of sunlight and outdoor activity can take a toll on your mental health, but fear not—there are practical steps you can take to lift your spirits and maintain a positive mindset. In this article, we'll explore five ways to beat seasonal depression and embrace the light within.



1

Wake Up Early and Let in the Light

One of the most impactful ways to combat seasonal depression is to reset your internal clock by waking up

early— even if it's only 30 minutes earlier. Exposure to natural light in the morning helps regulate your circadian rhythm, boosting your mood and energy levels.


Consider investing in light therapy lamps that mimic sunlight if natural sunlight is scarce in your environment. These lamps can effectively simulate the sun's rays, promoting the production of serotonin and helping regulate your sleep-wake cycle.


2

Maintain Your Routines

In the face of seasonal depression, the temptation to abandon daily routines may be strong, but sticking the routines that invigorate you during the warmer months is crucial. Routines provide a sense of stability and predictability, helping to anchor you during challenging times.


Ensure that your daily schedule includes regular meal times, work, activities, social commitments and continued sessions if you are currently in therapy. Consistency is key in maintaining postive outlook.



3

Take Your Vitamins (Vitamin D and Magnesium)

Losing hours of daytime means less exposure to sunlight, leading to deficiencies in essential vitamins that help us function happily. Incorporating vitamins like Vitamin D and Magnesium into your daily routine could be the just the trick to get you through the long winter months.


Vitamin D, known as the "sunshine vitamin," plays a crucial role in mood regulation and sleeping patterns. Without sufficent exposure to natural light, which stimulates the production of Vitamin D in the skin, you are likely to experience low levels of serotonin which result in depression. Anyone with a vitamin D deficiency could benefit from taking supplements.


Magnesium aids with various bodily functions, including brain function and mood stablization. In times of stress, the body tends to release hormones like cortisol. Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps modulate the release of stress hormones, promoting relaxation and regulate the body's stress response. Adding this mineral to your vitamin roster can reduce the body's stress resposne and imporve your mood.


*Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure you're meeting your nutritional needs.



4

Go for a Walk/Get Outside

Embrace the crisp air and invigorating atmosphere by spending time outdoors. Going for a walk can have profound effects on your mental well-being. Exposure to natural light and physical activity trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters.


Whether it's a short stroll around the block, a hike in nature, or simply sitting in your backyard, spending time outside can make a significant difference in combating seasonal blues.



5

Tend to Your Hobbies or Get a New One

Engaging in activities you enjoy is a powerful antidote to seasonal depression. Whether it's crafts, painting, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, devote time to your hobbies. Immersing yourself in a hobby requires focus, which can break the cycle of rumination that this season conjurs.


If you're feeling adventurous, consider trying something new. Learning a new skill or hobby not only provides a sense of accomplishment but also introduces novelty and excitement into your routine, helping to ward off the winter stagnation.


 

Beating seasonal depression requires a holistic approach that addresses both physical and mental health. By incorporating these five strategies— getting a sufficent amount of natural light, maintaining routines, getting outside, taking vital supplements and indulging in hobbies—you can navigate the winter months with resilience and embrace the light within. Remember, small, consistent efforts can make a notable impact on your overall mood and well-being.

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