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What Seasonal Affective Disorder Is, And How to Treat It
If you tend to feel a little more lethargic or down during the winter, it’s possible that you have seasonal affective disorder, or more colloquially known as S.A.D. According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of S.A.D.include feeling depressed, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, having difficulty sleeping, and having low energy. Here are a few ways you can treat S.A.D.
1. Make time for self-care
Carve out extra time for self-care, especially during the winter. Self-care means a lot of different thingsto different people. Try meditating or getting a new hairstyle. Reach out to friends, and confide in someone you love. You could even try a sensory-deprivation experience to see if that helps you feel better.
2. Get a ‘happy lamp’
It’s often recommended that people use light therapydevices in the morning, as this can help mimic the natural light-dark cycles of the outside world. You can get light boxes, lampsor light bulbs that are specifically designed to imitate natural sunlight.
3. Soak up the sun whenever you can
Since winter gives you a lot less light, it’s beneficial to get in the sun however you can. Try going up to a window that gets direct sunlight and staying there for a little while. Walks are also a great way to get in the sun, even when it’s cold. Taking a short lunch walkis not only a good way to get more natural light, but it has also been shown to be effective at boosting your mood. Try getting a little bit of sun on a daily basis.
4. Get more vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiencyhas actually been linked to seasonal affective disorder. Whether you get your vitamin D through the sunor supplements you can get at the store, a little more can help. Most experts recommend just a minimal amount of sun should be sufficient.
5. Take a weekend trip
If you can’t get the sun to come to you, then you must go to it. Sometimes, you just have to move a little bit further south. If you live far north where the daylight hours are even shorter, book a weekend getaway in an area where there’s both more sun and warmth. The anticipation of even just a weekend tripcan often help to boost spirits and improve motivation for immediate tasks.
6. Talk to a therapist
Counseling or therapyis a common suggested treatment for S.A.D. and might be most effective when combined with other therapeutic options. Sometimes, it helps to talk to an unbiased third party who’s been trained to help you work through your situation. They’ll offer you helpful methods and coping mechanisms that will get you through the darkness.
7. Exercise regularly
Major reviews and research suggest the therapeutic potential of exercise as a toolfor treating mood disorders. Exercise can boost your energy and is also a great opportunity for you to get outside. There are many activities you can do outside, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and winter hiking. If you’d rather stay warm inside, then you can do easy workouts that take 15 minutes or less. Exercise with a friend who can give you the emotional support you need and keep you accountable.
8. Don’t eat too many sweets
There’s always temptation with the holidays. While it’s nice and enjoyable to eat some sweet treats, eating too many can make your stomach feel sick and cause you to feel sluggish when you come down from your “sugar high.” Eat foods that are higher in fiber, and choose from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. They’ll help with the energy you crave.
While the exact mechanism of seasonal affective disorder remains elusive, more countriesare devoting resources to figuring out treatment options. Keep trying different methods, and don’t give up hope.
Article by Kimberly Hayes