Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs around this time every year. Some people like to refer to this depression as the “Winter Blues.”
For some, the symptoms may begin in the fall. For others, it starts just around the time the heat goes on in the house.
Experts advise that one should not dismiss these feelings. It may, in fact, be a treatable disorder that responds quite well to treatment.
- Make a plan – Be prepared. You may want to include more exercise, more social engagements, eating right and a change of attitude into your life. For some it may mean a mid-winter trip to a Caribbean island or spending more time in the gym. Your goal is to find those activities that will boost your mood.
- Sunny days – Bundle up and get outdoors. Don’t forget your hat and boots! Even if it’s a cold day the sun may still be shining. Exposing yourself to the sun will be a great way to decrease those blues and increase your energy.
- Light boxes make a difference– You may want to purchase a light box which is designed to provide light therapy directed at SAD. Or, you can purchase an indoor high-intensity light fixture. All simulate outdoor light.
- Watch what you eat – Research proves that our diet and sleep habits affect our mood. Many professional encourage those suffering from SAD to watch their alcohol intake by keeping it to a minimum. Up the amount of protein and complex carbs in your diet.
- Think good thoughts – By changing the way you think to more positive thoughts and reframing how one looks at the winter blahs will alter one’s responses away from the negative. For example “I have a plan to beat the blues” instead of “I hate the cold” will make a difference.
- Get more sleep – It’s natural to want to want to sleep more in the winter. We all know that in balancing our busy lives sleep is the first thing to go. Try to manage your schedule so that your are getting at least 7- 8 hours per night. And don’t forget an afternoon power nap if you can in order to feel refreshed.
- The gym is your friend – Whether you spend more time at the gym or outdoors with brisk walks you will see a notable change in your mood.
- Plan a treat for yourself – It’s always nice to have something to look forward and winter is the perfect time. Your mood improves when you’re anticipating that special event – a day at the spa, a visit to a friend, tickets to a concert.
- Make your home more cozy – Change the color of the paint on the walls to more warm and vibrant hues. Get rid of white and beige. Take a trip to your local home store and find some colorful pillows to throw on the couch.
- It’s not a bad thing to seek help– a therapist or psychiatrist can help you through this by identifying coping strategies that work best for you as well as any other additional treatment. You don’t need to feel this way!
~ Janet Pincu