Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts approximately five percent of the population, particularly among those who live in cold climates closer to the earth’s poles. While some SAD sufferers experience symptoms during the summertime, the majority of patients experience SAD during winter’s short days.
While many dismiss SAD as a mere inconvenience, the disorder nevertheless significantly impacts family and career life. Workers call in sick more often when suffering from SAD, and formerly happy couples find themselves squabbling over minor issues such as who ate the last can of chicken soup. If you suffer from SAD or fear you might, try these seven tips to overcome the cabin fever affecting so many of us this season. .
1. Talk it Out
Talk therapy teaches patients how to identify and process difficult emotions such as depression. Because those with SAD tend to isolate themselves, this type of therapy can break the cycle of avoidance behavior. Seek out a therapist trained in the special needs of those with cyclical depression.
No time or money for a professional? Set aside at least one day per week to get together with a friend or coworker. Just talking over coffee can help break winter blues.
2. Light it Up
Lights that mimic the natural rays of the sun gently alleviate seasonal depression. Once available only through therapists’ offices, these devices now sell on Amazon for as little as $50. Spend as much time as possible in this “natural” light to help reduce your symptoms.
Those who find it difficult to crawl out of bed in darkness should consider alarm clocks that gradually illuminate your bedroom, imitating sunrise. It’s far more difficult to pull the sheets back over your head in a sunny room.
3. Move it, Move it
Even though going to the gym may feel like trying to bench press an elephant, get your body in motion. Not only does exercise release endorphins, but it also improves blood flow to the brain, blasting away the blahs.
Take your exercise routine outdoors whenever weather permits for an added mood-boost. Spending time in nature lifts emotions naturally, and moderate sun exposure improves the body’s production of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency impacts serotonin production, possibly exacerbating symptoms of SAD.
4. Just Inhale
Meditation boosts your mood naturally by focusing awareness inward. Coupling meditation with essential oil use further increases the antidepressant effect.
In the mornings, increase your energy naturally by diffusing invigorating essential oils such as orange or jasmine. Wind down in the evenings with a mist of cedar wood or chamomile oil. Spritz a bit of lavender essential oil on your pillow to deepen sleep and promote happy dreams.
5. Plan a Sunny Va-cay
Even if you can’t afford to jet off to Tahiti to lie on the beach and sip umbrella drinks, planning a future sunny getaway boosts dull winter moods. Start making plans to get away briefly even if only for a long weekend. Taking a midday break to search Caribbean cruises can promote a sense of something to work toward!
6. Escape with a Good Book
It’s okay to want to escape harsh winter storms bunked out under a cozy comforter with a copy of a must-read novel from time to time. While summertime temps and blue skies guilt many of us into getting outside whenever possible, winter offers no such excuses.
Everyone needs a mental health day from time to time. If you’ve been squirreling away paid sick leave or diligently making it to all your classes day after day, a brief respite in bed may cure the blues ailing you. Don’t give in to this temptation too often, but a single day away can help rebuild perspective.
7. Nourish Your Body
Certain foods contain antidepressant properties, so snack your way to a better mental outlook. Nosh on nuts such as walnuts and almonds which contain high amounts of magnesium, nature’s gentle antidepressant.
Dark green, leafy vegetables contain high amounts of B vitamins which provide both a mood and an energy boost. Eggs and fish provide fatty acids requisite for brain health, so enjoy an egg- or tuna-salad sandwich for lunch.
At the end of the day it’s important to remember to take care of yourself.
While skiers and hockey players relish the cold winter climate this time of year, for many of us, the elation of the years’ first snow has since melted into grey-brown drudgery. By practicing a few natural mood-boosting techniques, you can still slide into spring with a smile!
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