Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a mental health condition that drives mood changes when the weather gets cold. Symptoms include depression, appetite changes, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of suicide. If you have the condition, your symptoms will likely spike in the fall and winter when there is less sunlight and gloomier days. Of course, you should be officially diagnosed by a doctor and always follow his advice, but here are some other things you can do to get through the cold season.
1. Increase Your Exposure to Sunshine
People who have SAD often experience more symptoms when it’s stormy or cloudy. When the sun is shining, take full advantage by sitting near a window whenever possible. You could also trim branches around your windows and add skylights to your ceiling. Take a sunny walk at lunchtime or use special lamps to increase the light you get in a day.
2. Get Some Exercise
Many studies prove that staying active can ward off depression. Even when SAD is in full swing, make sure you get some exercise as often as possible. Anything you can do outside is especially beneficial as you also get some natural light. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. You’ll feel healthier and happier and you may be able to ward off your symptoms until spring comes back.
3. Try a Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep cycles and mood. Some people with SAD report that their mood improves when they take it. If your SAD also makes it hard to sleep, this can regulate your sleep/wake cycle, which can also improve your mood. Talk to your doctor about how much melatonin is right for you.
4. Increase Your Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You can find omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, flaxseed, nuts and seeds. It shows some potential as a treatment for depression so increasing your intake is not a bad idea if you suffer from SAD. You can also take omega-3 fatty acid supplements to boost your intake if you don’t eat many of the foods that contain them.
5. Book Yourself a Professional Massage
Getting a massage is a proven way to relieve your stress. It boosts circulation and relieves stress, which is a great way to feel happier and make it through the winter. If you can afford it, try to get a massage pretty regularly to keep the benefits going all season long. If not, con your man into massaging you now and then.
6. Go out with Your Friends Whenever You Can
Being social is also a wonderful way to fight off depression so why not make a date to hang out with your friends? When you’re out having a good time, you are also distracted from the symptoms of SAD that you experience. So, go to happy hour, make a date with your boyfriend or go shopping with your sister. You’ll be so glad you did it!
7. Try Going on a Vacation
If you can get away, book yourself a trip to a sunny place like Tahiti or Hawaii. Taking a break from the wintery weather can revitalize you and give you the break you need to face what’s waiting for you at home. Go alone or take someone along. Either way, you’ll come home refreshed and ready to keep on keeping on.
Do you have seasonal affective disorder? How do you cope?