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Embracing Light in the Winter Blues: Navigating Seasonal Affective Disorder

The winter season, often touted as a time of joy and celebration, can cast a shadow for many, especially during the gloomy days of winter. It's 20 degrees today in Charlotte and grey. I bundled up in a hoodie and a coat to take my daughter to the bus stop. I find myself wishing for a spring day, more often than not. A friend recently messaged me and said she just wished for a less grey day and for the sun to break through, echoing the collective sentiment that this weather is turning us into inadvertent recluses. Our houses are nice, but we need to get out! I want to be outside. My motivation wanes, and I want to sit and watch reality TV by the fireplace or crawl back under the covers. However, reality sets in– bills, responsibilities, work, and the constant demands of parenthood loom. The struggle to remain motivated is real.

A phrase surfaced in conversations with a friend – "fake it till you make it." And I think we all have been trying as we combat winter blues, or as it's clinically known, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Lack of sunlight and Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to this state, but combating it involves more than sunshine and supplements.

So, how do we navigate this seasonal dip in mood and energy? It begins with intentional actions, a conscious effort to defy the winter blues, including:

  • Despite the cold, we can step outside, bundled up against the chill, and breathe in the crisp air.

  • Choosing healthier foods over comforting but temporary treats can provide sustained energy and uplift the spirits.

  • Staying active, whether through walks, gym sessions, or embracing a new hobby, becomes imperative. Engaging in activities that stimulate the mind, from reading/listening to books to decorating for the holidays can serve as a natural mood enhancer.

And while the temptation to hibernate is strong, adorning ourselves in bright colors and indulging in self-care routines can infuse a much-needed burst of positivity.

Winter's melancholy often impacts our brain chemistry, affecting dopamine levels and contributing to feelings of lethargy. Establishing routines, overcompensating for the lack of external positivity with internal affirmations, becomes a strategy to counteract the seasonal slump.

Today I'm reminded, that even in the grayest moments, resilience and intentional self-care are our light. So here's to a winter season filled with brightness, both external and internal, as we navigate the hues of winter and embrace the potential for warmth within ourselves.


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