With winter on the horizon, our days will become shorter, and sunlight will come and go in the blink of an eye. The winter season is that time of year when some people feel slow, sluggish, and, frankly, quite sad. Some people might even find themselves feeling this way at the same time every year. Could it be possible that there is a serious problem behind this?
Seasonal affective disorder is a category of depression that emerges in particular seasons of the year. Most people notice SAD symptoms starting in the fall and increasing during the winter months, but few people experience a spring/summer version. Although there is no treatment, per say, there are ways to help alleviate seasonal depression. These five tips can be practiced daily and may even prevent SAD from occurring as frequently.
1. Soak up morning sunshine.
According to Dr. Ani Kalayjian, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia Univeristy, winter blues will be worse in the mornings when you’re rousing yourself from bed. Opening the curtains and letting the sunlight in will get you feeling ready for the day.
2. Maintain your routine.
“The most helpful thing is to try to keep up everyday activities,” said Dr. Kelly Rohan, professor and director of clinical training at the University of Vermont.
Depression can make even simple things like bathing or eating difficult, and once you give up on those, other tasks seem impossible. Keeping to your normal routine will help you stay motivated and productive.
3. Ditch the sugar.
It’s common knowledge that too much of the sugary stuff will make us gain weight and puts us at risk for developing diabetes and certain cancers. Many people crave sweet and starchy foods in the winter because they provide a temporary energy boost, but these treats will ultimately leave you just as sluggish as before. Instead, try eating complete meals with good sources of protein and fiber.
4. Get outside.
Both Rohan and Kalayjian recommend breathing in some fresh air every day. Studies confirm that spending time outside can relieve stress, so bundle up and brave the cold for at least five minutes to lift your spirits.
“It turns out that going for a walk in the morning after sunrise can be especially effective,” Rohan said. “It gets light to the retina, but it’s also physical activity.” Two birds, one stone!
5. Book a trip.
Prepare for takeoff because quality vacation time will certainly boost your mood. Those who suffer from seasonal depression will benefit from a getaway, maybe one with a significant other or the whole family. This is a perfect way to get SAD patients out of their funk and get them to focus on themselves and their families.
5 Common Symptoms of SAD:
• Heaviness in arms and legs
• Frequent oversleeping
• Cravings for carbohydrates or weight gain
• Relationship problems
• Lack of energy or motivation
Written by: Kaylee Kopke