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Weathering the Change of Seasons

Battling Seasonal Adjustment Disorder in Recovery

There’s a chill in the air. The color of the sunshine is changing, the days are getting shorter, and summer fun is winding down. All this got you feeling more than just a little bit sad, or filling you with a persistent sense of anxiety? If so, you’re not alone.

For many people, the changing of any season spikes anxiety and spurs depression – in particular the change from summer to fall. There’s even a name for it: seasonal depression, sometimes called seasonal adjustment disorder, or SAD.

While everyone gets a little sad saying goodbye to summer, for some, this time of year can lead to a prolonged downturn in mood that, for those in recovery, increases the risk of relapse

Here are some self-care tips for treating seasonal depression:

Try new things

A little novelty lifts the spirits when we’re feeling down, anxious, or worried, whether it’s due to some autumn-time blues, or a more severe mood disorder. This year, try to choose mood-elevating activities like a cooking class or yoga. Exercise is always a great way to boost your feel-good brain chemicals. Or instead, simply bundle up and get into nature, even if the weather is a little rainy and cold.

But don’t overdo it

Some people respond to the anxiety and depression created by the changing of the seasons by overfilling the cool days and evenings of fall with activities and commitments. Know your boundaries and remember it’s ok to say no.

Allergies aren’t just for springtime

Did you know allergies can contribute to anxiety and depression, and that for some people allergies are just as much an issue in fall as they are in spring? If you suffer from autumn-time allergies, simply knowing this information can go a long way to help you feel better.

So take your vitamins and remember to breathe

When you feel anxiety welling-up inside of you, remember to breathe. Take a deep breath to a count of five, hold for a count of five, and exhale for a count of five. Long, deep breaths engage the parasympathetic nervous system, sending a calming message to your mind and body.

In addition, be sure to load up on vitamin D and magnesium as the seasons change. Vitamin D in the fall and winter months can help fight off anxiety and depression, and magnesium is a mineral that has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Getting enough magnesium can reduce feelings of panic, anxiety, and depression.

Sometimes, though, you just need some help feeling better, so fall and winter are also a good time to seek therapy or check in with your sponsor if you’re in recovery. You might also benefit from light therapy. And last, reframe the changing season as a fun opportunity to freshen up your wardrobe.

Put away the shorts and flip flops, put on a warm, comforting sweater, and keep in mind: spring is always just around the corner.

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