As soon as the leaves start changing colours, we find ourselves taking pictures of the orange trees, drinking pumpkin spice latte (even if we actually like it or not), and of course, toque season is back!
But, you may ask, “Why am I feeling unmotivated, low on energy, and craving sugar?”
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression) is often the answer. Less light through the day means lower stimulation of the motivating neurotransmitter, serotonin. And less movement and reduced social interaction can directly affect the happy brain chemicals, which are:
Serotonin – a key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.
Dopamine – a chemical messenger for motivation, allowing us to take action towards desires and needs. The opposite of procrastination—it also plays a role in how we feel pleasure.
Endorphins – chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain.
Oxytocin – the hormone of love and intimacy, also associated with empathy and trust.
If you are noticing anxiety, depression and lacking interest in anything, you might be experiencing seasonal depression, and know you are not alone. This is perfectly normal, and a reminder that we are not meant to be constantly happy.
Here are 5 tips to get through the Fall/Winter blues:
- Have an accountability and motivation buddy and check in with each other weekly. Connection is the most important piece to stay motivated and to know you are not alone through the challenges.
- Welcome the emotions and communicate them, if they become too overwhelming speaking with a counsellor can help. A mental health professional can support you in creating boundaries with negative self-talk, unhelpful coping mechanisms and digging into deeper issues such as attachment trauma.
- Move 30 min a day! Easier said than done, exercise, go for a walk, dance… movement will activate all the happy chemicals at once!
- Make sure to take your Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin and consider light therapy.
- Do something pleasurable every day! This one is my personal favourite, what can you do that will bring pleasure to your body? A warm cup of your favourite tea? A salt bath? Listening to your favourite playlist? Watching your favourite movie?
Extra bonus. Name 5 things you feel grateful for every morning!
If you are looking for extra support this season, there are many options including individual counselling, couples therapy, low-cost counselling, relationship counselling and psychedelic integration. Our team of counsellors is happy connect for a free chat.
Fabiola Pérez is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor at Thrive Downtown with years of experience. She specializes in treating early attachment trauma, prenatal and birth trauma, depression and anxiety, emotional regulation, and psychedelic integration. If you’re ready to take the first step towards healing, contact Fabiola to schedule a session.