As winter approaches, many Midwestern folks’ prep for the cold weather with winter gear, salt for the roads and sidewalks, and the ice scraper for the car. We seem to have all prepared for this season … except, sometimes, we forget about our mental well being. Have you ever stopped to ask, “How am I feeling?”

With the lack of sunlight during the winter months, most individuals are more likely to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD). Many people may go through short periods of time when they don’t feel like their usual selves or experience sadness. Many times, this happens when the seasons change. Someone could start to feel “down” with shorter days in the fall and winter but feel better in the spring with longer daylight hours.

Some signs and symptoms of SAD can include (but are not limited to):

· Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

· Having problems with sleep

· Having low energy

· Experiencing changes in appetite or weight

It is important keep aware of our mood during these cold winter months, especially since SAD is more common during this time. Additionally, with added stressors of the pandemic, it is vital more than ever to stay in check with our mood and monitor our mood often. In Wood County, there are many resources available to help not only your loved ones, but also yourself. Dial 211 and be connected to resources and services. If you or someone you know is in need of crisis services, call the Wood County Crisis Line: 419-502-HOPE (4673).

If you have a few days or week in between your mental health care appointments, be sure to take that time to focus on practicing self-care. Some ways to do this can include:

· Going on a walk

· Reading a book

· Watching your favorite TV show

· Enjoying a cup of coffee

· Sleeping regularly each evening

Whether we are diagnosed with a mental health condition or not, it is important to take care of ourselves. You are allowed to give yourself permission to disengage and regroup without feeling guilty. Often, we need times to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others’ needs. Remember, you can’t fill a cup from an empty pitcher

(Courtney Rice, MSW, LSW, is manager of marketing and communications, National Alliance Mental Illness Wood County.)