BY SASHA TASKIER, AMFT
It’s been a rainy, dreary few weeks in Chicago. I keep hoping spring is right around the corner, about to rear its head – but no. Not yet, at least. Talking with friends and clients, I’m reminded how profound an impact the weather can have on our minds, bodies and wellness. It has been over a week of rain and grey skies, and it certainly feels like our energy and positivity is being held hostage by the forecast.
Sometimes, only in retrospect we realize how hazy our brain has felt, how little energy we’ve had and how much we’ve isolated over the winter months. It’s invigorating to feel like you are coming out on the other side of the winter blues, and also a bit alarming to realize how deeply you may have been impacted.
Approximately 6% of the US population is impacted by S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder.) Symptoms include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal. A milder version of SAD, called the ‘winter blues’ impacts almost 14% of the population. Most of the people impacted by these symptoms live in the northern parts of the country (not only because the temperatures are lower, but because there is less sunlight) and 4/5 of people impacted are women. (Mayo Clinic)
As Chicagoans, so many of us feel like our best selves in the summer months. We have access to an amazing city that comes alive in May & June. With a beautiful beach, walking paths, farmer’s markets and parks we remember that our city is filled with active, vibrant people and families who love to congregate outside.
While this is (almost) around the corner, we still have some time and may need some strategies for keeping our winter blues and S.A.D. symptoms at bay:
Get outside! If it is a beautiful day, take a walk during your lunch break, leave work early, go for a run. These days are few and far between and our bodies thank us so dearly for the vitamin D and exercise it desperately needs this time of year. (Do it, even if it isn’t very nice outside… your body will thank you.)
Be amongst friends and family. While rainy days can sometimes lead to isolation and hiding under our blankets, often what our minds and bodies need is community and connection.
Plan something you can look forward to. Organize a game night with friends, or plan a dinner with your nearest and dearest. Even schedule to watch a new movie at home for a few days away – excitement and anticipation are very powerful tools.
- Get Connected. If you are concerned that your symptoms may be more severe, you can seek out professional help either through your general practitioner or a therapist.
And remember, the more it rains now, the more abundance and beauty we will see this summer. Keep an eye out for all the budding plants and trees as we continue to wait out the rains.