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Weathering Your Mood Swings

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It's officially fall, which means winter is right around the corner. If you're dreading the cold, you're not alone. You've probably heard of S.A.D. -- Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka Winter Depression. That's when people get depressed or anxious in the cold, short days of winter. But did you know many people get depressed in September -- even if the days are still sunny and warm? That's because the seasons can be reminders of events and experiences, even if we aren't consciously aware of them. These times are reminders of our life's transitions -- like mourning the loss of summer and going back to school. For some of us, buying school supplies -- bringing back consistency -- can be a good memory. For others, it can be fraught with insecurity and uncertainty.

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Why are some of us so affected by the transitions of the seasons? We often associate the seasons/ weather changes with milestones, and traumas and breakups.

Imagine that you wake up on a beautiful, sunny day with an overwhelming feeling of dread. You have no idea why, but you can't seem to shake it. Then, upon examination, you realize that you lost your beloved dog five years ago on that same day. Somewhere in your unconscious mind you have stored all of the feelings and memories about the loss. At first, there was a disconnect. But then you realize why you feel so down. With each shift in the weather or seasons, we absorb that stimulus and process the past as well as the present moment.

For most of us, sunny days are invigorating. But for some people, rainy days are a perfect match for their moods. If you are very social person, being in a cold climate can be difficult. But a homebody can feel energized by the bunkering down quality of winter.

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If you find yourself in a winter funk, try to experience the outdoors in a new way: go hiking, skiing or on a brisk walk -- even if you don't think you'll enjoy it. You may surprise yourself. Fresh air is always therapeutic, despite the temperature. We need and can get vitamin D outside, even in the winter. Instead of dread, dress warmly and embrace the chill. You can shift your mood.