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Battling the Winter Blues

Time to focus on a healthy balance

March 1, 2021 | 2 min reading time

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Battling the Winter Blues

 

By Cynthia Hovis, MSW, LCSW

Are you experiencing the “winter blues?” It could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder related to the change in seasons and lack of exposure to daylight. SAD is a rare example of a psychiatric disorder with a clear, identifiable biological cause.

Symptoms of SAD include increased appetite including carbohydrate cravings, increased sleep, weight gain, irritability, heavy-feeling arms or legs and interpersonal difficulties.

The treatment for SAD can include light therapy, medication and counseling/psychotherapy. Cognitive behavior therapy has been effective in helping some clients determine ways to change their thought and behavior patterns to enhance their mood and energy levels.

The take-away for all is that cold weather, less light and the stress of the holiday seasons can have a negative effect on how we feel -- physically, mentally and emotionally. Now is the time to focus on a healthy balance by:

  • Stay connected to friends and family
  • Participate in fun activities
  • Eliminate commitments that are more stressful than rewarding
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
  • Get regular exercise, or at least add in daily movement if not a full workout
  • Take in a much natural light as possible

If you have concerns about your health, your first step is always to check in with your primary care physician or contact BJC EAP.

Courtesy reprint from the BJC Employees Assistant Program blog.

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