It has been raining quite a lot in the Bay Area lately, which got me thinking about weather and how it can affect mood and motivation. I personally have felt less motivation to get things done on these rainy days. I find myself easily distracted and avoiding items on my ‘to do’ list.
Gloomy weather can also affect mood… it is easy to find yourself thinking more negatively or thinking “what’s the point?”. You may have heard of something called "Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) which is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the wintertime.
In this blog I will focus on different ways to cope with a less than desirable low mood that can often present during rainy or snowy seasons… whether your symptoms would qualify for SAD or you are just noticing you are feeling a bit gloomy this time of year, read on for some tips on coping with these undesirable moods.
1 - Mood and Music
Studies show that music can have an impact on our mood. Data shows that soothing songs increase the release of serotonin, a hormone that fosters happiness and a general sense of well-being. It also flushes the body with dopamine and norepinephrine, both neurotransmitters that aide in making you feel good and impact feelings of euphoria and elation. Try turning on some soothing or more upbeat music to help increase the release of neurotransmitters that may be having a hard time firing this time of year. Help your brain out by turning up the volume in your headphones.
2 - Talk Therapy
Using the support of a Psychotherapist this time of year can be very helpful. If you are lacking motivation or struggling with your mood a good counselor can help you identify the issues that are affecting you the most and help you learn ways to cope with those issues. Very often low mood coincides with a negative thinking spiral that can be hard to deal with. A therapist can help you identify and challenge those thoughts (using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or Mindfulness) so that the negative thoughts you are experiencing aren’t as easily affecting your mood and/or behaviors. Talk therapy combined with learning new coping skills to help you manage moods can make a big difference in dealing with a period that feels gloomy and/or a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
3 - Keep it Moving
Our bodies need movement. Staying active increases the production of feel-good chemicals that can help ease depressive feelings. When your mood is low and you don’t feel like exercising, that is exactly the best time to do so. Think of movement as a cup of coffee for your mood. You don’t even have to do anything too vigorous, a walk around the block, two rounds of jumping jacks for 60 seconds or a short yoga video in your living room can be enough to get your blood flowing. Give it a try to see if it makes a difference for you... I'm willing to bet it does.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. If you feel you may be suffering from seasonal depression (SAD), please reach out for a free consultation. I am happy to provide you with more information or answer any questions you may have about how counseling can help you manage the difficulties you are experiencing.
Melissa Grohs, MA, LPCC
Psychotherapy & Counseling Services