Summer gives everyone a few months to have fun in the sun, but then fall rolls around. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) makes people start feeling depressed or anxious because of the changing seasons and longer nights. It affects everyone from kids to adults, but you can fight back. This guide explains how moms can take the summer to prep for SAD so your family enjoys every month of the year.
1. Adjust Your Routine Slowly
Kids may feel SAD affecting them first because their routine changes suddenly. They go from staying up late and sleeping in to waking up early for school. It’s a rough transition, so adjust their routine a few weeks before school starts. They’ll slowly work their way to an earlier bedtime and won’t even notice when the sun eventually sets before dinner.
2. Get Family Input
Depression also intensifies if people feel like they can’t control their lives. Sit down with your family to get their input on their fall routines. They could get excited about getting ready for school if they have new lunch boxes to pack.
You might even beat seasonal anxiety by laying out your favorite fall outfits the night before. Control beats panic, so work their input into your family’s schedule whenever possible.
3. Introduce Self Care
Self-care habits are something that everyone should learn early and use throughout their lives. They regulate your mental health by giving you tools to help yourself instead of turning to bad habits. Self-care is anything that helps you destress.
Your kids might read before bed to wind down and fall asleep more easily. Getting more sleep regulates your circadian rhythm and minimizes SAD symptoms. Relaxing is the key to self-care, so consider how everyone in your family relaxes to determine which habits will be most helpful.
4. Start Stress-Related Conversations
Stress can trigger SAD by increasing a person’s anxiety. Kids feel especially stressed when summer ends because a new school year begins. They might dread facing people they don’t like or taking on more challenging class material. Open a dialogue to make them feel comfortable about coming to you with their anxiety, even after spring comes back.
Take them for an evening walk so they don’t feel trapped in a conversation on the couch. Bring up a tough topic while driving to a vacation or hanging out in a coffee shop. The right environment will set your kids at ease and help them open up, even if they wouldn’t talk about the subject before.
5. Make Summer Memories
You might feel depressed in the fall because your schedule is busier. You won’t have as much time to do fun activities and travel because school, sports and clubs start again. When SAD makes your mood dip, reflect on summer memories from vacations and special events your family attended.
Start making those memories with intention. Find summer festivals and afternoon trips your family can visit together. You’ll make plenty of memories now so you don’t worry about having wasted your summer when fall and winter come around.
6. Spend More Time Together
Families can also fight seasonal depression by spending time together. Avoid loneliness by making each child feel individually loved. Give them each attention by thinking of one-on-one activities, like a movie night together or an ice cream date. Even if you only read a book together before bed, you’ll both feel more cared for and less alone.
The key to doing this successfully is to find activities each child appreciates. It will likely look different for each person. One may love baking with you while another wants to roller skate down the street. Consider their personalities and passions so you find activities they each enjoy.
7. Set New Goals
Depression and anxiety get worse when you feel like you’re stuck. Making personal progress in life can solve this, especially during seasonal changes. Moms can take the summer to prep for SAD by setting new goals for everyone.
Ask your kids or your partner what they want to accomplish by the end of the year. Create a list that hangs where everyone can see them. They’ll feel encouraged every time they check off a goal, like reading a certain number of books or walking 10,000 steps. It’s a visual representation of their progress that mitigates depression.
8. Look Forward to Exciting Things
A family calendar can also be a visual form of encouragement. Instead of feeling trapped in negative thoughts or anxiety, your family will see what they can look forward to in the upcoming days or weeks. Remind them about carving pumpkins together, shopping for Halloween costumes or visiting family for Thanksgiving. They won’t seem like distant events if everyone can count down to them together.
Take the Summer to Prep for SAD
Moms can take the summer to prep for SAD by using these tips to start now. Get your family involved to find the best ways to fight seasonal depression. Adjusting your schedule, starting mental health habits and starting honest conversations are just a few ways to be there for your kids while taking care of yourself too.