Have you ever found yourself in the waking up in the Spring, opening up the windows and smiling because you hear the birds chirping and see signs of flowers starting to blossom? Do you love the summer months - enjoying the sounds of children playing, seeing lemonade stands set up, and listening to the crickets at night?
Pennsylvania is a beautiful place to live, especially since we get to experience all the wonderful changes in seasons. Pleasant weather months allow neighbors to gather, children to play, and nature to be enjoyed. All of the above seasons allow us to come together and spend time with ourselves or with those who are important to us. Once we start to approach winter, however, have you noticed your mood and anxiety starts to rise?
Winter reminds us that it is time to recharge for the preparation of the other seasons. It can also cause additional stress on families, from excessive travel or the financial burden of the holiday gift-giving season. Why the drastic difference though in our moods? The cold winter air and the long dark nights, of course!
The first snowflake falling in winter looks magical and beautiful, but by the end of the winter, do you find yourself dreaming about taking a hair dryer and melting the remaining snow because you are ready for a change?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
It may be comforting to know that you are not alone. An estimated 10-to-20 percent of Americans suffer from symptoms related to the winter blues. It is similar to seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, which affects up to five percent of the population. Winter blues typically happen due to the limited light, and feeling the buildup - and then the let down - after the holidays. January and February seem to bring out depression and anxiety the most. These feelings are very real and can be very frustrating.
HOW TO MANAGE NEGATIVE FEELINGS
Winter blues can be controlled by keeping a schedule, getting enough sleep, exercising, and finding things that provide you with fun and excitement. Feeling the outside air can provide a sense of refreshment. Celebrate the season and embrace the differences. It is also important to sit near windows during the day to have exposure to daylight. Light therapy is something that can assist in minimizing winter blues, and exposure to a very bright light for as little as 30 minutes a day can help. Therapists can also help adolescents and adults barrel through the long winter months through traditional talk therapy, activities, and creation of their own personal toolbox to assist in their journey to the spring.
LET’S GET SOCIAL!
Children and adolescents often feel trapped inside during winter months - unable to play with friends outdoors or run freely on the playground. Allowing opportunities for growth, helping, encouraging the positives, and allowing children their own “recess” at home can provide a sense of freedom, accomplishment, and self-expression. Even during the winter months Agora offers social outings in each region to bring our students together. If you are feeling a bit down after the holiday season, check out our Community Calendar and join us at an Agora Day Out near you!
Hopefully these tips will give you some insight on winter blues and how to overcome them!
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Jill Palme is an Agora High School Counselor and Licensed Therapist/Play Therapist.