Everyone seems to love when fall comes around, the falling leaves, great picture-taking opportunities, pumpkin spice everything, but few people talk about some of the negatives that can come with it. The truth is that for many people, the change from summer to fall and winter is tougher than one would expect. Therefore, understanding why seasonal changes can affect the body is essential to help keep your mental and physical health where it should be.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Every year about 5% of Americans experience a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short (Psychology Today, 2017). SAD is a seasonal depression where the changes in light levels outside can affect people’s mood, energy levels, diet, and emotions. SAD is developed primarily during the winter months as the days are getting shorter and the amount of light during the day is minimal.
Reactions to Daylight Savings Time
When the clocks ‘fall back’ this does mean that we get an extra hour, but it also means that we are spending a lot more time in darkness than we were in the months leading up to it. Research is uncovering ways that Daylight Savings Time affects physical and mental health, as it can mean a disruption in people’s routine, thus making you get up earlier with less sleep (Psychology Today, 2017). We also have less exposure to sunlight meaning our bodies aren’t able to make as much vitamin D.
Inadequate Access to Light
With daylight saving decreasing the amount of natural sunlight per day, the cold weather in addition can cause disruptions in people’s circadian rhythms. Many people feel more tired, less hopeful, and increased fatigued because of the lack of light and colder temperatures.
Family Gatherings: Stress & Pressure
Holidays with family can always cause tension, stress, and overstimulation. Breaks from school and work are supposed to be relaxing and a way to refresh and recharge your mental and physical health. However, sometimes going home can do the complete opposite, therefore, you need to make sure to prioritize your health.
Here are some ways to manage your stress during the changing seasons:
- Making a list of priorities for the season
- Getting access to plenty of natural light by spending some time outside
- Maintaining a regular schedule, even when cold temperatures tempt you to sleep in
- Taking care of your body. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days per week, while eating plenty of healthy foods and get enough sleep
Tessa Wilkins, Peer Wellness Educator Lead
Psychology Today. (2017, October 20). 5 ways the change of seasons might affect your mental health. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-you...