As winter sets in and days become shorter, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression associated with the changing seasons. In this blog post, we’ll delve into seasonal depression and discuss how music can be a powerful tool to help you get through this time of year.
At Ekko Music Studio, we believe that music goes beyond just the technical skills of playing an instrument and also has the power to nurture personal growth and well-being.
Exploring Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Embracing the Seasonal Shift
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is most common during late Fall and throughout Winter (the darker months of the year) although it can occur during any seasonal shift. Recognizing these signs and acknowledging the impact of changing seasons, such as shorter periods of daylight (typically accompanied by colder weather as well!) is an important first step to take: one can then be proactive and even cultivate strategies to thrive during this season of transformation.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Late Fall and Winter Symptoms:
- Low Mood and Depression: persistent feelings of sadness; lack of interest in activities.
- Fatigue and Low Energy: a pervasive sense of tiredness and decreased energy levels.
- Sleep Disturbances: changes in sleep patterns, including oversleeping and difficulty waking up in the morning.
Appetite fluctuations and weight changes are also possible.
If you are experiencing persistent changes aligned with these symptoms, seeking professional guidance at Ekko Wellness can pave the way for tailored interventions and a pathway towards holistic well-being.
Harmonizing with Nature: the Internal Clock and Circadian Rhythm
Seasonal Affective Disorder has a lot to do with our internal clock and circadian rhythm. By understanding and harmonizing with these natural cycles, you can create strategies to address symptoms of depression and navigate the seasonal shifts with a sense of balance and well-being.
The internal clock, also known as the biological clock or circadian clock, is a natural, internal process that repeats approximately every 24 hours, helping to synchronize an organism’s activities with the natural day-night cycle. These circadian rhythms influence various physiological and behavioral functions, including sleep-wake cycles, hormone production, body temperature regulation, and metabolism. These rhythms are crucial for maintaining the overall balance and coordination of physiological processes. Disruptions to circadian rhythms, such as changing seasons, and related symptoms like irregular sleep patterns, can impact health and well-being.
Managing the internal clock & circadian rhythm can help in addressing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Establishing Routine and Regulating Sleep: a consistent daily routine provides stability and predictability; maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and exposure to natural light in the morning can improve sleep quality.
- Light Therapy: timed exposure to bright light mimicking natural sunlight can help to reset the internal clock, and mimic exposure to morning light during days when it is not available. (Halifax Public Library has a Light Therapy Station).
Managing Seasonal Depression Year-Round with Music
Music as a Tool in Managing Symptoms
We often think of music as a form of entertainment, but music can also be therapeutic in nature and also offer comfort and support.
Here are some ideas how music can be used to help manage the symptoms of SAD:
Music often has the ability to evoke emotions. Listening to music that resonates with you can stimulate the release of endorphins, and can promote a positive shift in mood and alleviate feelings of sadness.
Music can act as a powerful stress-reliever and create a tranquil atmosphere (or an energized one!). This can be particularly beneficial for managing anxiety and/or restlessness associated with SAD.
When we focus intently on the music we are listening to, that is an aspect of mindfulness and also fosters relaxation. This can be instrumental (pun intended!) in combating insomnia and promoting better sleep quality, addressing one of the key symptoms of SAD.
Playing music provides a medium for emotional expression. Listening to or creating music allows individuals to process and express emotions, and can contribute to a sense of emotional well-being.
Engaging the mind and immersing oneself in music provides a cognitive distraction from negative thoughts and rumination, redirecting focus towards positive and enjoyable experiences.
Community Connection & Shared Musical Experiences:
Participating in music-related activities, whether individually or in a group setting, can foster a sense of connection and community, and can help counter feelings of isolation. Click here to learn more about the music groups offered with Ekko
Music Lessons & Counselling Therapy at Ekko Music in Dartmouth
Incorporating music into daily life can be a harmonious and accessible strategy for managing SAD symptoms. Whether through active engagement in music-making, mindful listening, or participating in musical communities, the therapeutic benefits of music extend beyond mere entertainment and offer a melody-infused path towards improved well-being.
At Ekko Music Studio, we are committed to providing a holistic approach to mental health & wellness in all of our ventures together.
If you have any questions about how we can help, we’d love to hear from you.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml
- Terman, M., & Terman, J. S. (2005). Light therapy for seasonal and nonseasonal depression: Efficacy, protocol, safety, and side effects. CNS spectrums, 10(8), 647-663. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16041296/