Holiday Blues or SAD?

It is normal to experience low energy and a lack of motivation in the fall and through the winter months.  The days are shorter, there is a chill in the air and catching some rays can be harder than trying to catch a cab to Brooklyn past 11pm on a Saturday night!  But what if you are experiencing more severe symptoms such as:

Lack of energy
Social withdrawal
Appetite changes
Difficulty concentrating

It may be more than a case of the holiday blues.  It could be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of mood disorder, like depression, that occurs at the same time every year.  It more commonly occurs in the fall or winter but it can also affect some in the spring or summer months.

SAD is a serious condition that can be treated with psychotherapy, medication and light therapy (phototherapy). If you are experiencing symptoms that are effecting your activities of daily life, professional treatment can help. For those of us who may be feeling milder seasonal symptoms, don’t fret!  There are some simple steps you can take lift your spirits.


It is not surprising to hear that your diet can have a major effect on your mood.  Make an effort to limit processed and refined foods like sugar, white rice, white flour, pasta, canned fruits, vegetables and meat, and soft drinks.  Include more fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, brown rice, beans and other legumes and unprocessed meat. Registered Dietician Cher Pastore, MS, RD, CDE suggests that we “make sure to eat foods that are high in Vitamin B12 to give you energy to fight off a lousy mood. Good examples include eggs, oven roasted turkey and sardines”.  Still confused?  A registered dietician can help.  You can visit Cher Pastore’s website at  or call her at 212.532.1305 to schedule a consultation.


Learning healthy ways to manage stress can be a great defense.  Yoga, mediation, accupuncture, engaging in relaxing activities, visualization exercises, and a hot bath are some examples of some strategies that can help.  Registered Yoga instructor, Susan Whang, affirms “the power of yoga is tremendous not just for its physical benefits but for the ways in which it promotes mental, emotional and even spiritual groundedness.  Engaging in a series of yoga poses along with using a cleansing breathing technique shuts off the mind and allows one to connect to a state of peace, calm and quiet— just in a single yoga class.”  To learn more about the benefits of yoga and other stress management techniques you can visit Susan Whang’s website at or contact her at 917.673.1335. Practicing stress management can be extremely helpful.  Stress left unmanaged can lead to depression, anxiety and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.


Think alcohol can make you feel better?  Wrong!  It is a short term solution that does not work.  Alcohol is a depressant that worsens your mood.  Having a few drinks is fine for most people but if you are experiencing symptoms of SAD or any other mood disorder, alcohol should be limited or even better, ELIMINATED.


Making physical activity a regular part of your day is proven to reduce levels of stress.  Not convinced?  The effects of exercise are also known to last for several hours after your workout is done.  Susan Whang, Founder of Prana Wellness, certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor, and Registerd Yoga Instructor says, “balance and harmony are the result of yoga, and therefore a regular practice (once or twice a week) is recommended- especially during the winter months to help elevate moods”.  So practice yoga, take a walk or get your spin on!  Be active.  It helps.


Being around people may be the last thing on your mind, but it can help.  Reach out to friends and stay connected.  They can offer support, be a distraction and give you a much needed pick-me-up.  So, get out there and get your social butterfly on!


The sun tends to be in hiding during the fall and winter months so when it makes an appearance it is important to catch some rays.  However, you don’t have to stalk the sun like a Paparazzo.  Outdoor light on a cloudy day can also be helpful.  Seat yourself near a window, keep the shades up during the day and spend some time outdoors. If possible, try to plan a trip to a sunny location for some relaxation and a little vitamin D.




Give yourself enough time to get a good 7-8 hours of sleep and get into a regular sleep routine.
Lack of sleep can be debilitating and effect the mind and the body.


For more information you can call me, Chamin Ajjan, MS, LCSW at 917.476.9381 or send an email to  To learn more about Chamin Ajjan Psychotherapy, LCSW PLLC or to schedule a free consultation,  please visit the website at

Be Well!

Chamin Ajjan Psychotherapy


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