Winter can be the worst season of the year for some people. Find out how to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder so it won't ruin your holiday spirit.
Have you ever felt that, as soon as the air gets cold outside, your mood goes down? Somehow you find yourself feeling sad and you have no energy or motivation to do even the easiest task. You keep wondering why you're feeling this way all of a sudden, and you desperately try to come with a vast catalogue of explanations. Well, this weird state of mind that you often get during winter is completely normal, and what’s more, there are ways to deal with it. Yes, there’s a way to properly address that ugly feeling you have during this time of the year. Find out what this really is about and what you can do to enjoy the season in a much better state of mind.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a variety of depression that's related to a particular time of the year (winter). It usually starts manifesting at the same time of the year and symptoms usually appear at the last months of Fall (October, November) and reach their peak between December and January. There are some cases in which SAD appears during Spring, but they're not that common. SAD symptoms include feeling depressed most of the day, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, insomnia, excessive or no appetite, feeling agitated, having a hard time concentrating, feeling hopeless, worthless, and at moments, even suicidal.
If you feel this way for a day or two and then it goes away, don’t worry. But if these symptoms are persistent and remain for weeks (especially if you have drastically changed your eating habits or have been having suicidal thoughts), I highly recommend you to take action and address this issue in the best way possible. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with SAD. Here are some of the options that have turned to be very useful for people in the past.
Work out, even though you’re not feeling like it.
When we exercise our body, we release endorphins, a hormone that’s associated with a joyful state of mind. Promoting the production of this hormone in your body can significantly improve your mood, so never discard this activity. A 30-minute walk, yoga session, or dance routine can do the trick.
Take special care of your sleep habits.
We can’t have energy to do stuff if we don’t rest properly in the first place. Eight hours a night can help you recover over time. I know that when you’re dealing with SAD, sleeping more than 4 hours seems like an impossible task, but it’s essential for your well-being. So, forget about watching Netflix or Facebook before going to sleep. Relaxing music, yoga, and meditation are more reliable activities than can help you sleep better.
Surround yourself with things you know you love.
Even though you’re feeling like you can’t enjoy anything at the moment, there are little things that may comfort you in the meantime. Scented candles, soothing and relaxing music, drawing mandalas, or incense are very nice and subtle recommendations when not even a your favorite movie can make you feel better.
Level your Vitamin D intake.
Since SAD is very closely related with a vitami deficiency, consuming foods with high levels of it can also help a lot. Vitamin D can be found in egg yolks, fortified dairy products (milk or yogurt), and cereal. Also a hot cup of dandelion root tea (which happens to have Vitamin D) can make you feel a lot less gloomy.
Put Light Therapy in consideration.
It may sound weird, but it’s actually a very good option if you’re willing to try it. Many people with SAD suffer from this because during winter, days are shorter and we all get less exposure to sunlight. While in many countries it may be complicated to go out and get some light beams, there is another way to tackle this situation: artificial light. However, Alfred Lewy MD, a SAD researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says that, "the most important time to get light is in the morning.” So, as soon as the sun comes out, take a good sunbath to help lift your mood.
Consider talking about it with a mental health professional.
When it comes to mental health, therapy is always on the table. The American Psychological Association states that “most people who have at least several sessions of therapy are far better off than untreated individuals with emotional difficulties.” Talking about a personal issue to a therapist or psychiatrist is a very useful tool you should always consider (especially if you’re SAD is exacerbating).
The Seasonal Affective Disorder can be a very exhausting condition when it’s not treated properly. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be dealing with this, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Mental health is as important as the physical, so we should take care of them equally.