By AnnMarie Gray, MA, LAC
Last week, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, predicted six more weeks of winter for us. During this time of year, you may have felt the change of season and could be wondering why you feel sad during the winter. Some may call it SAD or seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as seasonal depression. It's less discussed but SAD can also occur during the warmer months. No matter which time of year you experience symptoms, SAD can alter your mood and day-to-day functioning.
The winter blues include symptoms such as: low mood, little to no interest in normal activities, oversleeping, low energy levels, and trouble concentrating, to name a few. If you've noticed these symptoms affecting your mood and activity levels this winter, it would be a good idea to begin tracking these symptoms. If they're negatively impacting your life, you may want to seek a trained professional for help.
A suggestion I give to my clients during these times is to start using a self-care checklist. At the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was locked in their homes and isolated from normal activities, I began to notice that some of us were less aware of what we needed to stay balanced and in-tune with ourselves. With this in mind, I had the idea to create a self-care checklist. This daily list includes basic tasks to feel healthy and incorporates the eight dimensions of wellness:
Daily self care check list:
The goal of the eight dimensions is to find a balance that works for you. They don't all need to be given equal attention, but it helps you recognize what's important to you on your health and wellness journey. The eight dimensions are: emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental, and spiritual.
Everyones plan is individualized to their needs, and the goal should be to encourage a sense of wholeness for overall well-being. Some of us may need a reminder to eat, shower, or brush our teeth or to take five minutes a day to engage in mindfulness activities. Taking care of these basic needs is important and it might help us recognize where we're lacking. It shouldn’t be a reason to shame yourself—it's an opportunity to use that awareness to help create healthy patterns.
When considering seasonal affective disorder, you may recognize that you're less motivated to talk to friends and would rather stay home and watch Netflix. You may notice yourself becoming more sedentary and slacking on moving your body. Your personal daily checklist will help you notice these patterns so you can take the steps you need to get back on track or even just create a plan for yourself. So, what is the next step if you notice you aren’t feeling like yourself? Therapy may be for you. When working with a therapist, they'll help you create a plan to reconnect to areas in your life that may currently feel blocked or neglected.
Here at Mindfulness and Multicultural Counseling, we offer individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy depending on which therapist you choose to work with. We also provide extra support by offering yoga classes and guided meditations. Here is a link to MMC's Youtube page where you can find yoga class recordings and virtual guided meditations. We're here to support you and meet you at your starting point as you navigate your wellness journey.
Mindful and Multicultural Counseling Clinical Team
Therapists and psychologists committed to improving well being and mindful living.