For those who tend to get glum a little more easily, fall is a mixed bag. As the sun starts to set a little earlier each day, so do our happy moods. This can be even harder for people who already experience depressive symptoms or hate the colder weather.
An estimated 5% of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. This type of depression coincides with the longer nights and darker days that come with fall and winter.
It comes with many of the symptoms associated with clinical depression. Those who suffer from SAD might experience lethargy, social withdrawal, reduced sex drive, and overall changes in mood.
Although there’s no consensus on what causes SAD to occur, it’s thought that it’s due to the shorter days.
“A lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly,” claims the NHS. This, in turn, can limit serotonin, promote melatonin production, and screw up your internal clock.
This might also take a heavy toll on your self-confidence. Even those who identify as self-confident people may find themselves falling into a pit of despair when autumn rolls around.
You might worry about things that never bothered you before. An estimated 32% of Americans are concerned by their teeth’s appearance; comparing yourself to stars on television may send you into a spiral; forget about cozying up with your significant other. Your lack of sex drive and discomfort with your body will kill any chance of fun under the covers.
Even if we don’t experience SAD, we might still have bad days here and there. In fact, practically everyone experiences bouts of lowered self-confidence. So, how do we bounce back from feeling glum?
This answer is going to be different for a lot of people. While some people can feel better after a short walk outside, others might need to take a dose of medication. Either option is great as long as you’re feeling more like yourself.
Here are some recommendations to get you started if you don’t know where to begin.
Physical confidence boosters
Taking care of yourself physically is an essential step in boosting your self-confidence. Whether it means you go out and buy a flattering dress or wear a well-fitted suit, dressing in clothing that makes you feel good is a great first step.
Try to avoid baggy clothing, even if it’s comfortable. There are plenty of flattering options on the market that look great for any shape and still feel comfortable. It’s likely that you just haven’t found it yet.
Maintaining your appearance is also beneficial. You might notice your roots have grown out and your hair is two different colors. While the ombre look is still trendy, you deserve to have a haircut and style that makes you feel good about yourself. While your eyebrow hairs only last for four months, the hairs on your head can last between three and seven years; that means your split ends aren’t going anywhere. Brightening your look can help stave off the darkness that fall brings.
Finally, if you’re one of the 32% of people who don’t like their teeth, you should prioritize visiting the dentist. Besides, you’re not alone: 3 million people across the U.S. have implants and that number is only growing. When you have a healthier smile, you’ll likely feel better in social situations.
Time to talk mental health
While helping the outside can benefit the inside, your mental health is the real heart of the problem. Keep in mind that feeling sad or low is completely normal. These are just some tips to boost your mood on your own. Seeking professional help is an amazing decision should you choose to make it. In the end, your mental health should be taken care of and it’s in your hands.
First, let’s talk about how SAD affects the brain.
When our brains process sunlight, it triggers certain hormones to keep us awake and active. These hormones also help stabilize our moods and provide a host of other benefits to the body.
In the fall and winter, when sunlight is less common, these hormones are not working to their full capability. With less sunlight comes less mood-stabilizing hormones. You’ll also feel more tired and depressed. Although this concept isn’t a proven fact, it’s pretty much theorized by just about everyone.
Utilizing light therapy could be a way to combat this. Light therapy lamps work by mimicking natural sunlight to boost those beneficial brain hormones. The lamps are usually positioned two feet away from your face for a certain period of time. Think of it as a tanning salon, but you’re warming your mind instead of tanning your skin.
This period of light therapy is also a great time to relax and meditate. Quieting your mind and reflecting on your day is an essential part of the meditative experience. This might be why your mind is running a mile a minute when you get into bed; it’s the first time you’ve had a quiet moment all day.
You should also practice embodying a different perspective when you’re feeling down. Self-confidence is tricky. Any number of things could set it off. After you’ve identified the cause of your sadness or stress, try looking at the big picture.
One setback isn’t the end of the world. You’ve still got friends who love you and a family that cares. What are you really achieving by comparing yourself to someone else or drowning in regret? Try reconnecting with friends or talking out your concerns with a counselor. Feeling isolated is a hallmark of depression and finding ways to invent social situations can help you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
Your mental health isn’t a linear slope toward happiness. Up to 3 million people visit an urgent care every week due to complications with their health, including their mental health. You’re bound to hit rough patches here and there and it might get even worse when Seasonal Affective Disorder rears its ugly head.
If you want to focus on enjoying the fall instead of slogging through bouts of lowered self-confidence, try these tips to start feeling better.