It is officially November and the days have begun getting shorter and darker thanks to daylight savings!
This is often the time of year people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It affects an estimated 10 million Americans, and it is much more common in cold climates. For example, it’s seven times more common in Washington State and New England than in Florida, WOW! SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year. Although it can occur in spring or summer, it typically begins in late fall and lasts through the end of winter. This can leave people with the feelings of low energy, depression, difficulty concentrating hopelessness, worthlessness, and even feelings of death or suicide.
Since the symptoms of SAD are closely linked to other forms of depression, it’s best to visit a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.
There are a number of things you can do on your own to combat the effects of SAD. Here are a few ways to have you feeling like the badass you know you are.
Get out of your routine
Sometimes just a break in your routine is enough to help manage some of these shorter days. Whether it is just grabbing coffee with your friends or getting out of town when you weren’t planning on it, start a new hobby, anything to break up your routine. This can do wonders for your mental health.
Expose yourself to light
Getting more sunlight is easier said than done in some climates, so you might try light therapy. Special light therapy boxes come with a wide range of brightness levels and types of lights, depending on the prescription. Consult your physician before buying to ensure that you buy the right one for your symptoms.
Spend your lunch time outside
With it most likely being dark by the time you get home from work, spending as much time outdoors that the weather allows will really help. Even though it may be freezing cold, spending 10 minutes outside will really help lift and brighten your mood. Also, a few minutes of meditation outside can be very beneficial.
Make time for movement
Time spent exercising can significantly decrease the intensity of SAD symptoms. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise each day. Walking, hiking, tai chi and yoga all count as forms of exercise that can be done in the winter months. Maybe find an indoor class. Whatever the weather, make time to move your body and you will notice a difference.
Get a sunrise alarm
We will now be waking up in the dark, which makes it much harder to actually get out of bed. I picked my sunrise alarm last year and I fell in love with it. The idea behind it is that instead of being jolted away you are slowly woken up by the light that turns on over a period of time. Don’t worry the alarm still makes noise the light will help your body be ready to wake up first.
Fill up on complex carbs
Eating more carbs when the weather is colder is common in people with SAD. According to researchers, when you eat carbs, you make serotonin – the same “feel good” hormone that antidepressants boost. However, be mindful of those carbs and focus on quality, slow-burning carbs that come from a bowl of oatmeal, whole grain rice, or quinoa.
Take Vitamin D supplements
Most of us become very vitamin D deficient in the winter months. Our days have become much darker and the cold weather keeps us in doors. Well this is the time of year to get back into the habit of taking Vitamin D. You’ll be thankful you started when you realize its affects.
Talk to someone
Talking to a trusted friend or loved one can help ease your symptoms. One study found cognitive behavioral therapy was just as effective as light therapy in treating SAD. A combination of talk therapy and light therapy together should have you feeling like a superhero.
Although many of us feel best when it’s sunny and bright, it’s important not to accept SAD as an inevitable part of life. Taking steps to reduce your symptoms will help you enjoy the winter season and feel your best!
So how do you manage these days and avoid some of these feelings?