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Winter Is Here


As the winter months set upon us, people often bundle up for the season’s colder temperatures, cook heartier meals, and settle into post-holiday routines. These types of behavioral changes have become routine for many of us and help create healthy structure and expectations for the present and future. 

 

Less obvious consequences of seasonal changes can involve our mental health. While the winter months can evoke pleasant emotions and remind us of fond memories, they can also influence our daily functioning by somewhat unhelpful means. Per a 2022 poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 41% of women and 34% of men reported their mood declined in the winter. This is often called “Winter Depression” or Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, it is not inevitable.

 

We have tremendous power and control in terms of how we respond to seasonal changes. For starters, how we approach our sleep remains tremendously important. Although most people appreciate that a consistent sleep schedule can support our mental health, we tend to disregard analyzing the effects of decreased sunlight on our sleep schedule (and mood). Specifically, a lack of natural daylight can delay our sleep/wake cycle. Additionally, exercise can become more difficult as we feel less motivated to be outdoors in the cold weather; yet, it remains imperative to our mental health as it has a healthy relationship with depression and anxiety.

 

Supporting our mental health in the winter months requires both intentionality and awareness. When we’re less motivated to exercise outdoors, we must increase the likelihood we’ll move our body indoors. Our language can even impact our behavioral choices and subsequently impact our mental health; for example, being asked to “ride the Peloton” sounds much more taxing than “moving our body while picking up toys.” However, both meet the criteria for exercise.

 

Ultimately, you are the expert on yourself and will have the most insight regarding any seasonal changes in your own behaviors. If you’re interested in better understanding how evidence-based therapy could help you, reach out to Roswell Psychology today for a complimentary consultation.

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