With Fall kicking into gear, our focus often turns to holidays and gearing up for the New Year. But what do these shorter days and longer nights actually mean for our mental health? In this blog I examine how the weather can impact our emotional state and overall mental health throughout the months. I know that living in the year-round sunny South Bay (I call Hermosa Beach home), we tend not to think about the impact weather has on our mood, but it can have a greater effect than one might think!
The reason we tend to feel happy during long sunny days at the beach is due to a hormone released in the brain called serotonin. I am sure many of you have heard of that magical hormone, which is known to boost mood, provide a sense of calm, and keep you focused.
In contrast, have you ever felt tired and lethargic on a gloomy, rainy day — only wanting to binge-watch Netflix movies and eat potato chips? The reason for this is your body is craving a serotonin boost and without the weather to provide a natural solution, you turn to the couch and carbs for a short term solution, with negative results on your health.
Take full advantage of the sunlight! Schedule in time for a morning stroll on the Manhattan Beach pier or go surfing in Redondo Beach — why else live here if you aren’t taking advantage of the South Bay’s natural mental health promoters. Not only will you experience the positive effects of the sun and fresh air, but by getting up and moving you will increase the blood flow throughout your body and release endorphins, a well known feel-good hormone.
If you aren’t blessed with consistent daily sunlight; there are alternate options. The most popular one is light box therapy. This helps provide you with artificial light, which acts similar to the sun by providing a boost in serotonin. When looking for which light box to purchase, I recommend finding a box that produces at least 7,500 of full-spectrum light.
If this turns into more than just a mild mood shift every now and then; you could be suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Some of these symptoms could include feeling depressed everyday, low energy, loss of focus, and having problems sleeping. In this case, it is highly recommended to seek additional support from a therapist.
You can contact your South Bay therapist at 310-892-2572 if those symptoms persist. I serve the entire South Bay which includes, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach.