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It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving or Halloween. It’s something a bit more to do with the warm, sunny days gradually being replaced by colder, dimmer ones. The ever-shortening days swapped for longer nights; you might’ve already started to experience mood changes or feel lower energy levels than usual. Yes, you’ve guessed it—I’m talking about SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is type of depression linked to the change in seasons. It’s a lot more common than you might think.
According to Dr. Robert Levitan from CAMH, a centre for addiction and mental health in Canada,
2-5% Canadians suffer from a severe case of seasonal depression, another 10-15% of Canadians experience a more mild form of SAD, and up to 35% of Canadians go through the “winter blues” and generally feel less positive. Women are also more likely to be affected by SAD. Symptoms can include: fatigue, low energy, sadness, lethargy, and apathy. It often begins in the fall and slows down in the springtime.
I personally begin to feel the affects of the change in season quite early, with October and November being the most showing months. It’s sandwiched between the the summer peak months and the slight boost I receive in December from the holiday cheer, family time, and additional break that helps ease my symptoms.
My experiences involve having trouble getting out of bed and getting things done. I wake up feeling sluggish coupled with a difficulty in being able to focus and often end up feeling even worse at the end of the day when I realize that I wasn’t productive enough.
Here’s how I cope with the incoming fall blues at home:
My go-to strategy when I’m feeling particularly low is to take care of my body. I find the more time I put into taking care of myself, the better I feel, which helps alleviate symptoms of feeling blue. Grooming plays an incredibly important role.
Wearing makeup often helps. This may seem counterintuitive, because you feel low, the last thing on your mind might be to put on mascara. But when you look your best, you also begin to feel more self-confident, and it gives you a mental boost, even if you're just staying at home. A bright coloured lipstick goes a long way on a dim day. But I’m not just talking about makeup, I’m also talking about taking care of basic hygienic needs. I’ve gone through weeks where I give little thought about the condition of my body, and I’ll admit that there have been times where I haven't bothered to shower for days. This is the reality when you simply don’t have the energy to do what used to be seemingly insignificant tasks.
It’s important to be patient with yourself and start with small achievements. Sometimes all I ask of myself to do in a day is to take a shower, or get dressed, and these small successes contribute towards feeling accomplished and can even snowball into doing more.
Types of care can range from taking the time to wash your face and brush your teeth, getting dressed, showering, to more luxurious activities like exfoliating, moisturizing, combing your hair, and/or putting on makeup.
Other potential self-care practices can also include: cooking a warm, nutritious meal, having a cup of tea, reading by an open window to absorb more sunlight, or listening to soothing music.
Whatever it is, start small and build a routine around it. Just remember to take the time out of your day for yourself to pause for some self-care.
Note: If you're feeling more intense or severe symptoms of SAD, contact a health professional as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you are experiencing disturbing or harmful thoughts please click here or call 1-800-273-8255.