As the leaves fall with the cold darkness of winter close behind, many of us begin to feel a sense of dreariness. Lethargy, irritation, and anxiety can lead to a sharp decrease in motivation and mood. Before the pandemic, the rate of Americans experiencing seasonal depression, known formally as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), ran as high as 20%. With the addition of the stresses and fears of our “new normal,” the rate is even higher.
If you are currently dealing with symptoms of seasonal depression, read on for some tips to make you more resilient to seasonal depression and stay motivated at work.
Tips for Overcoming Seasonal Depression and Staying Motivated
1. Vitamin D
During the wintertime, sunshine exposure decreases significantly. Since sunshine is one of our primary sources of Vitamin D, we frequently experience a deficiency during that time. Nearly half of all Americans lack this essential nutrient and require supplementation. If you’re feeling lethargic and depressed during the dark days of winter, a daily Vitamin D supplement can make a difference in only a few weeks.
2. Diet & Exercise
How you treat your body profoundly affects your mood and, consequently, your ability to work. When stressed, we often reach for substances that worsen our condition, such as caffeine, drugs, alcohol, and “comfort” foods filled with sugar and fats. These substances may relieve our stress and make us feel better temporarily, but they also mess with our bodies and leave us more vulnerable to stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and illness. Increase your healthy hydration, including plenty of water, and follow a more nourishing, whole-food diet, including healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar balanced and your digestive system healthy.
It’s also vital to stay active and get exercise. Any movement and activity are beneficial even if you cannot work out the way you did during the good weather. Try taking a dance class, joining a recreational sports league, or enjoying rock climbing at your local indoor adventure park to get active and connect with others.
When we feel depressed, connecting with others at work may feel like the last thing we want to do. However, social connection improves your mental health. Uncomfortable as it may be, respond to those messages and consider letting someone know that things are going rough. The support of friends and colleagues who care makes a big difference.
4. Light Therapy
Light therapy can effectively elevate your mood and treat seasonal depression. Studies have shown that 20 minutes of artificial sunlight daily can be as effective as antidepressant medications. So, consider adding a lamp to your workspace or enjoying the artificial sunlight while you sip your morning coffee.
Seasonal depression can be, well, depressing. Keep these tips in mind, and if you still feel down and stress during the winter months, don’t be afraid to ask for help.