This past week Charlotte weather sky rocketed to 85 degrees. The sun was beating down on the backs of scurrying workers on lunch breaks. Children were playing in First Ward park, and spring was in the air- or so we thought.
Unfortunately the warm weather isn’t quite here to stay yet, and for some of us that means that we aren’t yet at the point where we can count on our seasonal depression to pack its bags and GET OUT.
Seasonal Depression is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and how fitting that acronym is. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. Most SAD starts in the fall and continues into the winter months and ends in the spring. A warm congratulations to those who suffer from SAD and have fought through the autumn and winter seasons, because like all forms of depression, SAD is far from a walk in the park.
Yesterday the temperatures raised and the car windows lowered. People were sitting outside at their favorite lunch spots and others were taking strolls around Uptown. The hope that spring was finally here was all around, but reliable warm weather is not here yet. So how can those with Seasonal Depression in Charlotte get through these last few weeks of cold chills? Here’s a few.
According to a research study done by Stanford University, nature walks help your mental health. Specifically, the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
Luckily we live in a city that has tons of parks and prioritizes green areas. Charlottes Got Alot‘s list of parks in and around Charlotte also allows you to view them via map and set search filters to find the perfect park near you!
2. Get outside
Physical activity can help people with mild depression, and can help you with Seasonal Depression. Evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Right now Planet Fitness has a monthly fee option of $10 a month, and Fitness Connection has a monthly cost of $9.95. In addition Groupon has summer gym deals to scroll through!
According to The Mayo Clinic, phototherapy is a great way to get some vitamin D and start feeling a little better. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression, and so getting a sun lamp and doing light therapy is something that can simulate the sun and help. Amazon has some sun lamps as low as $15!
4. Eat for your Mental Health
Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings.
While the symptoms of SAD can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates, such as pasta and white bread, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Examples that can also boost your serotonin levels: oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and bananas
Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats can also improve your mood and may even boost the effectiveness of antidepressant medication.Examples: oily fish, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds
In Charlotte, there are tons of healthy restaurants and grocery stores to choose from to help stay on track during the length of your depression. A few of my favorite are Luna’s Living Kitchen and BEAN Vegan Cuisine.
5. Reach out
Seasonal Depression can be mild, but it can also be extremely difficult. If you are going through the work or school days fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder and feel that it is getting to be out of your control, reach out for help. Talk it out with friends and family, and know that what you are feeling is valid and real. Counseling, cognitive therapy, and medication are ways that a mental health professional may help reduce the depression you are feeling.
Whatever the season, when you’re feeling depressed your problems may not seem temporary—they can seem overwhelming and permanent. But you will feel better. If you are feeling suicidal, know that there are many people who want to support you during this difficult time, so please reach out for help.
Although there is only a few more weeks of winter weather, those with Seasonal Depression know that a month with depression can feel much longer. Charlotte has a lot of places to choose from that may help boost your mood. Luckily, Charlotte citizens live in a city with tons of resources. In whichever way works for you, take action to help your Seasonal Depression.
If you don’t suffer from SAD, share this article. I assure you someone you know does.