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Stephanie Knight, assistant professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of psychiatry at UMMC Midtown Campus, discusses how seasonal changes can affect a person's mood, as well as helpful tips on how to alleviate these symptoms.

Daylight saving officially ends at 2 am on Sunday, November 3. People associate this with gaining an extra hour of sleep, but for some, changing the clocks can also mean a change in mood. The decrease in sunlight can have a significant impact on your mental health.  

Self-Care Tips for Daylight Saving Time and Dealing With the Seasonal Changes

  • Take advantage of the sunlight: The lack of exposure to sun is a major catalyst for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As it starts to become dark earlier, try to get outside as much as you can, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. If you can’t get outside, find a window that streams sunlight.
  • Keep a set sleep schedule. Whether it’s during the week or the weekend, try not to sleep in later than usual or go to bed too early.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: With the cold and dark weather, it can be easy to turn to sugary treats for comfort. Incorporate protein rich foods to stabilize blood sugar and balance moods. Eating foods like avocado, lean meats, and coconut oil can help regulate your blood sugar and satisfy hunger. Also keep healthy snacks on hand in case those cravings hit. 
  • Keep Active: Even though it gets dark earlier and the temperatures start to drop, don’t stay cooped up in your house all winter. Physical and social activity can help alleviate symptoms of SAD so try to incorporate this into your daily routine. If it’s too cold to exercise, try looking online for a workout you can do at home.

If you continue to struggle with feelings of depression, it may be time to see a mental health professional. A professional can help determine if you are suffering from SAD and how to best help treat it. 

Mental health recovery is a patient-directed process that happens over time but it can be catalyzed by a mental health program, such as one offered at the UMMC Midtown Campus. Our dedicated team collaborates to develop individualized treatment plans and support systems to help get back to everyday life. Learn more about the mental health services offered.