How to Get Through the Fall
How to Get Through the Fall
This can be a very challenging time of the year. Summer is definitely behind us with the days getting shorter and cooler. The excitement and busyness of the first month of school is over. And frankly, life feels as it has settled into a bit of a routine.
But lurking in the background are the many upcoming fall and winter holidays. Halloween is right around the corner and you’re trying to juggle costumes, pumpkin carving, and Halloween parties. Next up is Thanksgiving and the rest of the winter holidays. Now, you’ve got pressures from family, friends, and colleagues to attend every holiday event and to be in a holiday mood.
This can all add up to stress, depression, and a feeling of being overwhelmed and even a diagnosis of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Many people associate SAD with the winter months, but for many of us, this transition period of fall to winter is as equally challenging.
When you’re not feeling your best mentally and emotionally, your immune system is impacted. Research tell us that when people are under stress, several things happen: the production of stress hormones such as adrenalin and corticosteroids increase, uric acid production increases, and blood sugars rise. This can make it very challenging for your body to defend against viruses, bacteria, and disease.
We want you to avoid this at all costs. To help you make the most of the fall months, we’ve put together some tips on how to keep your stress levels low and information about the signs and symptoms of SAD.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and is recognized by the medical establishment as a form of depression. For most people with SAD, the symptoms begin in the fall and can last until the end of the winter months. Depending on where you live this can mean the period of October to March can be a very critical and challenging time.
The signs and symptoms of SAD can include:
- Daily depression for the majority of each day
- Lack of energy
- No interest in activities that you typically enjoy
- Changes in your weight and appetite
- Problems with concentration
- Feeling hopeless or guilty
- Mood changes including agitation and sluggishness
Often during the fall months, people with SAD will start sleeping more, craving high carbohydrate foods, gain weight, and feel overly tired and low on energy. This can exacerbate feelings of depression and stress and make it hard for your immune system to perform at its best.
People suffering from SAD feel the pressures of fall and the winter holiday period at a deeper and higher level. If you are feeling depressed or think you have SAD, we urge you to contact your doctor immediately.
How To Manage Your Stress During the Fall and Winter Holiday Period
If you’re struggling, feeling depressed, feeling overwhelmed, or think you’re suffering from SAD – you need to contact your doctor.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of juggling multiple fall and upcoming winter holiday events, these tips can help you manage your stress:
- Ask for help. Admittedly, this can be hard to do but this is the time when you need to reach out to your family and friends. For example, ask your partner to take care of buying the Halloween candy or to decorate the house for the spooky night. Once you talk to your friends and family, you’ll discover that you’re not alone in feeling stressed and pressured with the list of events.
- Prioritize. If you have young kids who are super excited about Halloween, then make this your focus and commit to scaling back on Thanksgiving. Remember, your kids are busy with school and other activities, so they can only handle so much as well. If you do want to host Thanksgiving and a winter holiday party, then start planning now and know what you really want to get done and what can be dropped should you run out of time and energy.
- Remember the spirit of the season. Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for everyone in your family – think of this when you’re starting to feel rushed trying to get the costumes perfect and buy the ideal pumpkin. Thanksgiving and the winter holiday season are really about friends and family – when you’re thinking about meals, presents, parties, and balancing everything, remember why you want to get together with people.
- Put yourself first. When you’re super busy trying to get everything done for others, it’s very easy to lose track of yourself and what you need. Make yourself a priority – take yourself out for a latte, make sure you get out for some fresh air every day, keep up with your yoga – do the things that allow you to take a breath and reset. Be clear with your family and friends that you need this time for yourself.
- Protect your health. It’s easy to get so busy that you stop eating well and doing the small things that you know help keep you feeling well. Remember to take your AHCC to support your immune system from the heightened impacts of stress (as well as the fall and winter colds and flus).
If you have been diagnosed with SAD, make sure you stay on track with the treatment plan created by your healthcare practitioner. Remember to manage your stress, to get fresh air and sunlight on a daily basis, to get regular exercise, to make time for friends, and to focus on relaxation and mediation.
Visit the AHCC Research Facebook community page and tell us how you cope with the busy fall and winter period.