If you find yourself feeling hopeless, overeating, oversleeping, struggling with daily tasks, feeling stressed, being unsociable, or experiencing increased anxiety, especially with the onset of cold winter days and shortened nights, you might be dealing with the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
You're not alone in this experience. Many, including myself, have noticed a shift in mood as winter sets in. Personally, I've found myself going to bed early, craving sugar, lacking motivation, and feeling generally uninterested in anything.
Considering hibernation as a natural state for animals during winter, it's plausible that humans might experience a similar inclination to remain inactive or indoors. The body's energy is redirected to combat the cold, impacting our daily lives.
Understanding why winter affects our mood is crucial in alleviating any guilt or shame associated with SAD symptoms. Scientifically, the reduction of light can lead to a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to shorter daylight hours and less sunlight. Additionally, the mental association of winter with sadness might contribute to these feelings.
Melatonin, responding to darkness, affects our internal clock and sleep patterns. With earlier dark nights, our bodies produce more melatonin, inducing tiredness. Similarly, serotonin, known as the happy hormone, becomes imbalanced, leading to symptoms of depression when our internal clock is disrupted.
As humans, we often place immense pressure on ourselves to do more, be more productive, and exceed our own expectations. This self-imposed pressure can contribute to guilt and stress, exacerbating symptoms.
Acknowledging the need for rest without guilt is vital. Understanding the reasons behind our feelings and practicing self-kindness can be the first step towards a more positive mindset. While conventional advice like going for a walk or practicing self-care is valuable, addressing the core issues is essential.
If you recognize these symptoms and need help, consider reaching out to family, friends, or a medical professional. Counseling or therapy can provide valuable support. If you're unable to do this, various hotlines, such as Samaritans UK at 116 123, are available to talk about your worries.
If you ever feel in danger due to your mental health, call 111 or your national health service immediately.
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