January and the new year can be rough. The joy and bustle of the holidays is over and people may face winters full of cold, dark days.

Such darkness may be more than just a lack of outdoor light. It could be emotional darkness as well. People may be experiencing the winter blahs, where weather and monotony contribute to sadness and boredom. Or, it may be a more serious condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that can be triggered by a lack of sunlight and other factors.

Seasonal affective disorder is more than just sadness. Since it’s a form of depression, it can cause physical ailments in addition to mental problems. It can trigger substance abuse, as people may turn to alcohol and drugs to lift themselves from this depression.

But, just because it may cause such problems doesn’t mean it will. Or, if people are already struggling with depression and substance abuse, they don’t have to continue to do so. They may want to make changes to combat their problems by

  • Transforming they ways they eat and move. Eating healthier and exercising more can feel good physically. They can also serve as mental reset buttons, as signs that people are taking positive action to change themselves and their lives.
  • Changing their appearance and the ways they feel about it. Looking good on the outside can help people feel good on the inside. Such changes can include getting a new haircut or buying new clothes.
  • Pursuing a new hobby. Hobbies can distract our attention and engage our minds. They can also introduce us to new people, which itself can help ease depression.
  • Adopting new attitudes. Instead of looking as winter as an enemy, people may want to embrace it. If the weather prevents people from spending time outside, they could take the opportunity to read the books they wanted to read or watch the shows they wanted to watch.
  • Seeking help. Therapists can help people develop these positive new attitudes. Professional assistance can also people explore why they’re depressed and develop ways to address and treat such depression.

As difficult as winter can be, it’s temporary. It’s just a season and spring eventually arrives. Similarly, SAD and other forms of depression don’t have to last forever. Making changes to embrace the new can help prevent or treat depression. A new year can lead to all sorts of life-changing and life-affirming new areas.

Written by Guest Blogger Nicole Allen.

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