How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
It’s normal to feel a little down during the winter. There are less chances to get outside, you can’t do all the enjoyable outdoor activities you used to do during the summer. Depending on where you live, and it might just be too darn cold! It’s common to get the winter blahs, but a more serious ailment is SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. A sufferer of SAD can feel sad, pessimistic, and unmotivated to do anything. They also tend to crave more carbs in order to compensate for these moods swings, which can lead to weight gain and sleeping much more than they’re used to. The symptoms aren’t much different from depression, except that they tend to clear up once the weather starts getting warmer again. SAD tends to affect women more than men.
SAD is the result of shorter sunlight hours during the day. Sunlight provides vitamin D, which has been shown to not only help with the absorption of calcium, but it is also a mood lifter by helping the brain to release serotonin and melatonin. These chemicals regulate appetite, sleep patterns, and moods.
But that doesn’t mean you have to accept your fate and hibernate like a bear all winter. These are some tips that can help you to beat the awful winter doldrums and get you feeling emotionally healthy again:
- see the light: since serotonin and melatonin are directly related to sun exposure, add some to your life. Spend some time by your windows, or take a walk outside if it’s possible to do so. Try to get outside for some time on your lunch or coffee break. ‘SAD’ lights can be purchased at many pharmacies or department stores. Follow the instructions carefully, and then set up the light in a convenient spot for a specified amount of time each day.
- exercise: it may seem difficult to get in your usual kind of exercise when it’s snowing outside, but if you have space in your living room, you can engage in some aerobic workouts that not only get your blood moving, but can also increase your sensitivity to light and restore the circadian rhythms that help you sleep at night.
- socialize: being around other people you like can help to elevate your mood. Stay in and play a board game, watch movies, or even have a contest on who can build the ugliest snowman. Engaging in any kind of activity other than sleeping all day can definitely improve the health of your brain.
If you feel that you may be suffering from SAD, contact your doctor or health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and get the help that you need this winter.