Preparing for Winter in Recovery

Colder Weather Brings Mental Health Challenges

As the seasons change, the days get shorter and the feeling of isolation can set in. Feeling down or depressed in the winter months is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is a type of depression that onsets in the fall and winter and wanes once spring begins. SAD is one of the main reasons many people seek drug recovery. Their SAD becomes even more pronounced in the winter months which pushes them to seek help. Another reason is that as SAD symptoms become evident, individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.

Recognizing Seasonal Affective Disorder

Protecting your mental health in the winter months is important on the recovery journey. Knowing the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is important to take care of yourself. Symptoms of SAD include:

  • A depressed mood most of the day
  • Problems sleeping or sleeping more than usual
  • Low energy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • Feeling guilty or worthless

Tips to Preparing for Winter in Recovery

One of the best things to do for yourself (especially if you know you are affected by SAD) as we move closer to the holidays and winter months is to make a plan to protect yourself and your mental health.

Here are some tips to prepare for winter in recovery:

  • Identify your triggers and outline steps you’ll take to deal with them. As an example, a lot of people benefit from keeping a journal and writing down their feelings.
  • Build a network that you trust, staying connected and having a trustworthy network is critical in recovery.
  • Make your home environment calming, safe and uplifting.
  • Get natural light daily and/or get a lightbox. Plan for 20 to 30 minutes a day of natural light.
  • Make a plan to exercise throughout the colder months. This can be done from the comfort of your home using free tools such as Youtube and other at-home exercise guides available online.

Find Connection at Unity Recovery Services

Unity Recovery Services has a peer based support program that works. Individuals can join one of many programs to find connection and support this winter (and all year round). From individualized support, to group therapy, online therapy groups, and more. Check out our full line up of upcoming programming at