As the weather changes, so does our moods. This is especially true of those individuals who live farther North. With the settling of Winter, one’s energy levels lower in correlation with the shorter days. As night comes earlier and earlier, individuals are drained of post work energy and find themselves sleeping and relaxing more. This has negative effects on health. Exercise is essential not just for health but also one’s mental and emotional status.
Colder and darker nights do have effects on moods. Seasonal depression can set in on these grey and dark days and nights. Less exercise, less light and less energy all play into the hands of seasonal depression. Seasonal depression spikes at a higher level after the Holidays. Many suffer from depression after the Holidays. The fun and excitement disappear and the return to regular regiment and life becomes the new norm. Add the somber weather and darkness, then one can see an emotional drop compounded with negative weather.
Individuals already dealing with stress and grief will have a more difficult trek but it can also effect others with no existing grief. Depression can be over nothing. It can be a mental state with no true loss. Seasonal and winter depression hence can strike those suffering from loss but also those who are merely struck with clinical depression merely due to the change of seasons, the end of the holidays, and the beginning of a cold and dark winter.
So we can look at two individuals suffering from season depression. The first person experienced recent loss and is under enormous stress. This person is not only dealing with the change of weather, lack of energy and darker days, but also bombarded with the loss and the stress that surrounds it. The person is trying to adjust to the loss especially as the holidays approach but this becomes completely impossible.
The first holidays without a loved one can be the most difficult and most depressing. It will in fact take many years before the holidays can be viewed with some slight excitement. The bereaved person will have to learn to adapt to future holidays without the loved one and also learn to incorporate new ways of commemorating the deceased. All of these things will take years and years, but until then, the first holiday without a loved one can be a dismal affair. In fact, there may be no celebration that year. Instead the person may remain alone or avoid festivities.
Compounded by this, they will suffer from the seasonal weather and lack of longer days. The grey and cold will only illustrate what they feel inside. While coping, it is possible this person may enter into a type of depression.
The other individual has no reason for grief. He or she has not lost a loved one, but for whatever reason they feel a true emptiness. There is no explanation for his or her grief. The change of weather, lack of light and end of the holidays brings a barren and empty feeling. This individual suffers from a true clinical depression. There is no loss but the individual nonetheless feels empty.
So it is true that during the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, there can season depression. Some already suffering from loss may grieve more heavily and some may even fall into a depression. Others will suffer from an unexplained depression after the holidays. The change in season definitely plays a key role whether it is the cause or merely an enhancement. The reality is this time of year is harder than other times of year to deal with grief or even stress and for those even not dealing with these things merely due to the nature of the season, weather and climate.
This time of year is physically colder, damper and darker but also spiritually bright with so many cultural and spiritual holidays. Hence it can prey on both the grieving and merely mentally unhealthy.
Those who suffer due to no reason but only mental and emotional response to the change of seasons should actively seek help. Counselors can provide the needed guidance but sometimes others need the guidance of clinical counseling. These individuals suffering from clinical depression will need medication.
Those who are suffering loss or remembering lost loved ones will also grieve. They may need professional assistance as well but if not, they can in time learn to better cope and learn to remember the loved ones not present. They can learn to commemorate the loss and find some joy in the love that was shared through memory and stories.
During the seasonal change it is important for individuals to try to remain active. Gyms and other activities are key. Physical exercise drops considerably during this time span from November through February and individuals need to remain faithful to a schedule. They need to exercise not just for good physical health but also mental health.
Also, trying to make the winter months more special is key. Perhaps going to the movies, skating, or bowling are good ideas. Making a certain night a special night with family or friends to watch a favorite show or having a night out once a week to a restaurant. It is important to take joy in the little things when the weather and time of day light is not as giving.
This of course is difficult when suffering from clinical depression or remembering a loss, but with counseling and if needed, medication, one should attempt to find some good from these months and still enjoy the little things of life. Better coping strategies, exercise and doing little things can help one get through the darker and colder months. Physical and mental health should be a top priority in these months!
Grief Counselors can help others cope through these dark months, and in some cases, licensed counselors are needed for issues that require medication, but through acknowledgement and a firm resolution, one can fight through these darker and colder months and find enjoyment during and after the holidays despite loss and despite seasonal change.
If you would like to learn more about grief counseling or would like to become a certified grief counselor then please review the American Academy of Grief Counseling’s Grief Counseling certification program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.