Within past month, we have felt a change in the air as a warm autumn breeze has become crisp and cool as it ushers in the coming winter days.
For some, the transition of weather is a valued time of enjoying the sweet and unique offerings of the season — cherished gatherings and activities in the comfort of the indoors, warmer expressions of fashion, rich and flavorful cuisine and perhaps living with a greater sense of stillness and treasured hibernation. For others, the change in weather that comes during this time presents challenge. In this shift of weather, many may notice the approaching presence of depressive periods — for an individual, within an intimate relationship and/or among a family.
For some, a change in emotion and/or an experience of depression may correlate specifically to seasonal changes (known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) and may be described by (but not limited to) a sense of sadness or depressed mood, lethargy or lack of energy and/or excessive tiredness. Generally, this is marked by experiences of depression having beginning in fall or winter and leaving in spring. For others, the change in weather may create a climate where previous depressive experiences (or an onset of depression) becomes more noticeable or particularly challenging to overcome.
While the human experience is marked by a wave of varying emotions and changes in our emotional condition, there are times when it may be difficult to move beyond present undesirable depressive ways of feeling or thinking — in the condition of both steady and changing weather. Perhaps the transition of season offers an invitation toward a readiness for change — change in circumstances, relationship, perspective of one’s living. If this resonates with you, it may be most beneficial to join with others that can support efforts to combat depressive symptoms and foster experiences that are more preferable to you. Individual or group therapy also offers a space to distance yourself from depressive encounters and move toward the experiences you desire.
Aspiring to minimize or prevent the potential depressive effects of the season, I encourage you to be intentional about your lifestyle this season. Create healthy diet and exercise routines that maximize your body’s well-being. Indulge in the art of this season — enjoying traditions or rituals specific to this time. Cultivate social relationships that fulfill both emotional needs within your life, as well as can be contexts for being active and enjoying pleasures within our community. Challenge your family to invest in the relationships and activities that are most significant and let go of the obligations that contribute to the busyness and exhaustion that often leaves one more vulnerable to depressive experiences.
In honor of those rejoicing in the arrival of our weather, as well as those that find this to be a season of challenge, the coming of this season offers a time of transition for us all — It is in this transition that we are together invited to preserve the memories of living well in past warmer days while also embracing and living from the uniqueness that only this new season can bring. Desiring to be triumphant over the depressive experiences that some may find this season and in the promising opportunities of this time, could it be that this season might become a time of extraordinary living you would long to return to when the weather changes yet again?
Shannon Renae West is a licensed family therapist working with individuals and families in downtown Bothell. She can be reached at (425) 415-6556 or at ShanWest@msn.com.