Many factors contribute to our mental health, change of season being one of them. Winter is a time when many people can feel a drop in mood and energy levels. There can be biological reasons for this, which can be seen in the example of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which effects our ‘biological internal clocks’ or circadian rhythms, due partly to changes in sunlight patterns. SAD can be diagnosed by a medical professional and treatments can include light therapy, spending more time outdoors as well as supplements and medication if necessary (Source: My MVC).
As a Mental Health Social Worker and holistic Counsellor, I also like to look at some of the broader factors that can contribute to the ‘winter blues’. As some of my colleagues have highlighted in previous articles on this subject, winter is a time of introspection, reflection and ‘going within’. We may find we have more time than usual to spend on our own in winter as the allure of the outdoors, parties and get-togethers is not as strong when the temperature drops. For many people time spent alone can be challenging and bring up difficult thoughts and feelings that are easier to suppress during the busier, more distracting months.
Western culture values ‘busyness’, extroversion and goal- setting. If these elements are present in our lives it can mean we don’t have time to look within and be faced with difficult thoughts and feelings that we would prefer to bury. But what happens when the glare of summer gives way to autumn’s winds … and slowly winter’s lilting call is upon us and Mother Nature is insisting we slow down and acknowledge our shadow parts?
If you are recognising it is very challenging for you to be still, to be alone or to relax, please know you are not alone and this is a common concern of our times. Every person has different needs for activity, connection and goals however for good mental and physical health, the ability to relax and have some ‘down time’ is essential. Constant busyness, distraction and not enough time to unwind can lead to chronic physical and mental health issues long-term. At Claire Day Counselling, I can help with strategies for stress relief and relaxation, and can also support you to go a little deeper and explore the reasons why it is hard for you to relax. I can help you get to know your shadow and disowned parts through art therapy, talk therapy and more.
Winter Blessings to you.
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”