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Coping with Seasonal Change

by K.C. Lomonaco, Psy.D., R.N.

October is starting, and as we launch into fall I am reminded, though I wasn’t an avid watcher, of the saying from The Game of Thrones → “Winter is coming.” This is the time I find myself beginning to tuck in and shed things, pulling my covers around me a little tighter and figuring out how to cope with the diminishing light! There is something so cozy about the fall and something a little bit dreadworthy about the coming “darkness.” Let’s talk about how to stay healthy when the light is beginning to fade in the fall.

Make sure you are getting enough sunlight. Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is a thing and affects millions of people a year. It has a lot to do with the disruption of our circadian rhythms and this can occur due to a decrease in exposures to light. Decreased exposure to light can also disrupt Vitamin D production in our body, the only vitamin we make on our own, so make sure you get outside when you can! Simple ways to do this include: going for walks on your lunch or simply eating outdoors when weather permits and thankfully Denver weather often permits. Sit close to windows on cold but sunny days at home or in the office! Take your am beverage outside or PM toast, open your blinds, or rake more leaves! The idea is find small ways to be outdoors more! Worst case scenario, get a sun lamp! There is increasing evidence that they help reduce depression!

Make sure you are getting good rest! Sleep is essential and you can review previous newsletters on the blog re: sleep and sleep hygiene. With it getting darker earlier, it's a good time to reset that circadian rhythm and get back into the habit of getting into bed a bit earlier, turning off screens, picking up a good book, and turning in for a good winter’s nap a bit on the early side. Your brain, mood, and body will thank you!

Make sure to eat foods that are high in Vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids! These help the brain and body all the time, but particularly in low light winter and fall! Also berries are great for the brain. Did you know the antioxidants in blueberries can help stave off memory loss! Grab a pint next time you go to the store! Avoiding highly processed foods and sugary foods is always a good idea.

Exercise is a great way to bust stress and I know I sound like a broken record but any reduction in stress hormones = a reduction in inflammation in the body. This also equals a reduction in mood disruption, sleep problems, and just general ick! So come to class, lift heavy shit, and keep kicking some ass!

If you find you are more sad over the fall/winter it might be worth seeking out professional support. Therapy is always a great option to work through hard stuff! Medication can help too as we know any past depressive issues can lead to continued and/or ongoing concerns. Let me know if you need referrals! I have lots!

All in all there is always something to do outdoors and ways to stay healthy! Community is key and we have an awesome one! Someone always has a connection to the things we are seeking, the hard part can be to ask for help! Don’t be shy! I am here but so are so many of the amazing women here at Kali!

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