At one point or another, we have all experienced how the weather and change in seasons can affect our mood. Waking up on a dark, cold, rainy day may cause you to feel more down than usual, or like curling up in bed with a warm drink, whereas a sunny warm day may have you feeling better, and excited to get outside and to take in the suns warm rays. These are just small changes in energy and mood that you may notice from day to day – but how do weather and seasonal changes really affect our mood and overall wellbeing?
The summer is often a time to reconnect with old friends, engage in outdoor experiences, try new cafes and patios, go to festivals, walk in the park, do water activities, spend time with family members at the cottage, and more. There is so much we get to do in the summer when it’s nice outside. Engaging in all of these different activities can help us feel more connected, can cause us to have more energy from being more physically active, and we are also exposed to more sunlight, increasing vitamin levels and other important chemicals that help regulate our mood.
As September rolls around, and the sun starts to set earlier, kids are back to school and the summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. This transition can be tough for some people as it is not just the cooler nights and darker mornings, there are also a number of life changes that occur too (i.e., changes in schedules, routines, relationships, and more). The fall time also brings on a time for reflection, in preparation for family get-together’s and welcoming on the winter. The extent of the change in mood varies from person to person, depending on what they might have going on in their life, their protective factors, risk factors, sources of support, resiliency, and more. The change in seasons can affect the body’s serotonin levels, which plays a significant role in regulating mood. For some individuals, changes in seasons can trigger significant changes in mood, which may trigger the onset of a form of depression, referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD include a loss of energy, irritability, moodiness, feeling hopeless, lethargy, sleeping too much, feeling withdrawn, cravings, and an overall feeling of depression. If you suspect you have SAD, reach out to your doctor to discuss prevention and treatment options.
What can I do to prepare for seasonal mood changes?
Maintain sufficient physical and mental health – Continue to implement an exercise routine that gets you moving. Whether it is walking on the treadmill, going to yoga, playing basketball, or playing outside with your kids, it is important to keep your body moving regularly as it has significant positive impacts on your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. It might be useful to seek out a therapist to explore any concerns regarding changes in mood, as they can help to support you and prepare you for the winter months.
Spend time with loved ones – Connecting with loved ones and making time for those important to you can foster a positive atmosphere, which is especially necessary when you may be having a hard time and could use some extra support. Talking with loved ones about your concerns can also make them aware of your current situation and personal needs.
Let there be light! – Try to get some exposure to sunlight. It is important that we get a natural source of vitamin D, which provides us with energy and significant emotional benefits. If this is not possible, consider taking a vitamin D supplement.