Coping with Seasonal Transitions
This time of year often reminds us of how fast life goes. Summer was here. It was busy. We were able to soak up the sun, the nice weather, being outdoors, and have free time. Then comes September. The kids are back in school. We are back to more routine. We start moving towards a seasonal transition, with fall happening on September 23rd. And all of it occurred in just a blink of an eye.
Seasonal transitions can bring about various experiences and feelings. With the change in weather, we may welcome cooler weather and love the smell of fall but may not be so excited about shorter daylight hours and changes in our weather. Some may feel energized with the arrival of the fall. Others may feel just the opposite, knowing that winter is just around the corner, and feel a dread. Seasonal transitions often mean adjustments in our daily routines, changes in our clothing, adaptation to different outdoor activities, and adjustments to sleep schedules. There are lots of transitions as we move into the next season. We may have both the push and the pull of the transition. Or it may be easy to sense that we are not excited about this transition.
If you are one who is sensitive to these transitions, you might do well to bring in some strategies to help you cope in a healthy way. Here are some ideas.
Recognize and accept the changes.
You knew it was coming, so accepting this natural part of life can be helpful, and understanding that it is a temporary moment will soon be summer again. In DBT, we call this Radical Acceptance. If we can’t change it, step into acceptance.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Stick to a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and ensure you get enough sleep. A healthy lifestyle can boost your energy levels and overall well-being, helping you cope better with seasonal changes.
Get plenty of natural light.
As daylight decreases, spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. Expose yourself to natural light to help your body’s internal clock and improve your mood. Light does help the mood. (Healthy Place, 2015)
Consider light therapy
If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or really notice that you are affected by the lack of daylight. It is easy to access light therapy, which you can get through the use of a special lamp that emits bright light, mimicking natural sunlight. You may want to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if this is a treatment you may benefit from.
Adjust your daily routine.
Changes in seasons require you to adapt your daily routine. Prioritize self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Engage in hobbies, spend time with loved ones, or pursue activities that make you feel good. (Tedeschi, 2023)
Practice stress management techniques.
Incorporate these techniques into your daily routine. These might include meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or involving yourself in activities that help you relax.
Stay socially connected.
Isolation can worsen the effects of seasonal transitions. Try to maintain social connections and engage in activities with family and friends.
Seek professional help.
If you find that your mood, energy levels, or overall well-being are significantly affected by seasonal transition, consider this as a viable option. A mental health professional can provide guidance, support, and appropriate treatment options to get you back on track.
Everyone is unique in how they are affected by seasonal transitions. Being aware is the first step. Pay attention to how you are feeling and make conscientious decisions on how to manage things to keep you feeling balanced and healthy. It is important to notice how you are transitioning. If you notice significant disruptions to your mood, well-being, or daily functioning, implement coping strategies that work best for you as you navigate the changes.
How seasonal changes can affect our mental health? (2015, October 30). Retrieved from Healthyplace.com: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/how-seasonal-changes-can-affect-our-mental-health
Tedeschi, K. (2023, June). How mental health changes with seasons. Retrieved from sagehousetherapy.com: https://sagehousetherapy.com/blog/how-mental-health-changes-with-seasonsTags: mental health tips for fall and winter seasons, Seasonal transitions and mental health, sensitive to transitions
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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