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The Truth About Our Mental Health During Winter Solstice


The Truth About Our Mental Health During Winter Solstice

  • Mental Health

On Wednesday, December 21st, we will honor the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice marks the first official day of winter, with the fewest hours of sunlight throughout the year. Across many cultures, the winter solstice symbolizes the changing seasons and, thus, the changes we humans experience. But you may wonder, how does the winter solstice affect our mental health? This article will explore that answer and the best practices to implement when dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Because winter solstice has the least hours of sunlight, some people may experience melancholy and sadness, primarily due to a drop in serotonin levels. Some people find it harder than others to cope with the winter blues they are facing. It’s common for people to lose motivation to leave the house and be social and, unfortunately, have an ever-present feeling of hopelessness take over. Some individuals who struggle are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression directly related to the lack of sunlight during the day.

Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder is also referred to as seasonal depressionthe winter blues, or winter depression. Common symptoms of SAD include a continuous down mood, a loss of pleasure in hobbies or activities, irritability, feelings of unworthiness, feeling lethargic, sleeping for longer periods, craving carbs, and gain or loss of appetite. 

While the exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, it’s believed to be due to the lack of sunlight. Many experts think that a lack of sunlight may stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working correctly, which could affect the production of melatonin (which helps you sleep), the production of serotonin (which affects your mood), and the body’s internal clock.

6 Tools to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder 

Self-care is vitalt for those living with SAD. 

Throw your face to the sun. Literally, when the sun is out during winter, make it a priority to throw your face to the sun and let the warmth sink into your body.

Practice mindfulness. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and somatic movement are all great ways to handle Seasonal Affective Disorder. While we can’t always control how much sun exposure we get, we can control how to care for our mind, body, and spirit. Start experimenting with different mindfulness practices. 

Travel. While not everyone has the means to travel, if you do, traveling somewhere warm with sunlight can help when battling seasonal depression. Look for good deals on airfare and soak up some rays when the darkness gets to be too much.

Light therapy. Light therapy can be a great tool to use during the winter. Implement using it during your morning, afternoon, or evening routines and see if you feel a positive effect. 

Talking therapy. It can also be constructive to see a therapist during a time of SAD. Traditional talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and EMDR can be excellent therapies to explore.

Psychiatry. Consider meeting with a psychiatrist to discuss medication if symptoms don’t improve. While medication doesn’t have to be a permanent treatment, it can support people during difficult times. But even if you decide to take and stick with a particular medication, there should be no shame in that; we all need help in some form with navigating our struggles, and medication can transform someone’s life for the better.

The key is knowing your mind, body, and spirit and advocating for yourself when you need help and support.

Contact Us Today

At Advanced Behavioral Health, we are here to help you. Whether you have a case of the winter blues or are enduring another obstacle you’d like to talk to someone about, visit our services page here. Our team of experts is well-versed in many different modalities and offers on-site visits, virtual visits, and more. If you are suffering, know you do not need to suffer alone. We are here to help you navigate this difficult time and provide the tools to help you heal. 

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.