Winter is finally here, which means each day from now until the equinox, we get a few more moments more of daylight than we did the day before. This is good news for the many people whose moods have tended to darken as the days have grown shorter. If you have experienced an episode of depressive disorder, you might notice a pattern of mood shifting each year. The end of year holidays are a busy and stressful time for everyone, even those who don’t recognize or celebrate a major religious holiday at this time of year. The business of others, and the interruption of regular routines can add stress. Even those who enjoy celebrating the holidays experience added stress at this time of year – positive or negative, the body experiences stress in similar ways.

For those who experience a darkening of moods as the days grow shorter and the holidays draw near, hang in there. This is a good time to remember the importance of self-care routines, and finding time for recharging. As we settle into winter months, the sun is out for just a bit longer each day. Allow yourself to get as much sun exposure as you can, even while indoors. Open blinds and curtains when the sun comes out. You might consider waking with the sunrise and easing into the day, to ensure maximum light exposure. When used regularly, non-harmful UV lamps have proven to be a mood lifter people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

If you find you are just a bit more gloomy than usual during the past few weeks, consider whether you notice a pattern from years past. It may be that you are more affected by the seasons than you realized. Be sure you are getting enough vitamins in your diet, including B-vitamins, which help with energy levels, and vitamin-D, which we get from the sun. If your mood is really low, consider talking to your doctor or mental health professional about getting some help with getting back to your base line. Seasonal affectation is no myth, but you don’t have to endure it alone. In the meantime, look forward to the new year, and the upcoming Austin Spring days!