What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder — and How Does It Affect Empaths?
Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that usually starts in late fall or early winter and lasts until warmer seasons.. Some signs include everything from having trouble concentrating and little energy to feeling hopeless and depressed just about every day.
As extreme as these symptoms may sound, though, they are all due to chemical imbalances that occur in the brain when exposed to less sunlight; namely, serotonin and melatonin.
Serotonin, the “happy hormone,” is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. With less light and vitamin D, there is a drop in serotonin, and it’s only natural that our moods go down.
Melatonin, the “sleep hormone” is released in the brain when darkness sets in. It helps regulate our sleep, but becomes disrupted when we experience too much darkness.
As Empaths, our brains already feel things more deeply, so just imagine how these chemical imbalances throw our circadian rhythm — our internal clocks — completely out of whack.
As Emapth, I am super selfware. I noticed that as the weather changed so did my mood and I decided that I needed to beware of how to find my happy space.
If you find yourself feeling sluggish, fatigued, or anxious as the days get shorter, you may be experiencing SAD. I want to share tips for you to move this season with more grace and ease!
Acknowledge that is a real thing! Seasonal Affect Disorder is a real thing and impacts empaths a little differently so remember that being empathic is a personality trait and not a disorder.
Set (or reset) your sleep schedule.
I cannot reiterate this enough: whatever your sleep cycle is in the warmer months, try to maintain it throughout fall and winter. Experts agree, saying it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene, from going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to not using electronics — like your phone — in bed.
Let the Light Shine In:
I also like my Himalayan salt lamp and recommend putting one in your bedroom or reading corner. The red glow it gives off produces a calming effect and makes me feel happier and more relaxed. (I also love lighting a lot of candles as soon as it gets dark) This is really beneficial to those who tend to be sensitive to external stimuli like bright lights. I find all of the above to be soothing, a win-win for my SAD and highly sensitive self.
Help your body to help your mind.
I love loungewear as much as the next person but when we lounge in bed longer in the mornings because it is just so warm and cozy, It’s OK to do this sometimes, but when it becomes the norm, we deprive ourselves of essential movement our bodies need.
Move Your Booty!
Exercise is a great reason for getting out of bed in the morning and great for self-care, too. You don’t necessarily have to do it right away, but I find it helps boost my mood and keeps my body temperature up throughout the day. And exercise doesn’t have to involve going to a gym or on a run. You can do yoga, kettlebells, or jump rope — there are plenty of free recordings online. I signed up for Zumba and African Dance. This is another form of community too :-)