This is a guest article from one of our readers and supporters, Kimberly Hayes
Although sometimes referred to as “the winter blues,” seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD) is much more serious. As the weather becomes cold and the days grow shorter, people experience symptoms that include weight gain, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping, often escalating into hopelessness and depression. It’s a serious health condition that makes it difficult to study or work, let alone enjoy the pleasures of winter, which becomes a season of dread. NHS Informartion Page for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you’re among the many people who suffer from this condition, or you know somebody who does, it’s important to take action. Although a visit to the doctor may be necessary, there are also some lifestyle changes that aid greatly and lead to brighter days.
Friends are the perfect antidote to feeling low, and their kind words, laughter, and support may lift you out of the winter slump. Call someone up and make plans for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. In fact, you may feel better at the end of a 10-minute phone call, and whoever you talk to will probably be happy to hear from you, too. Tips for Socializing When You Feel Depressed by healthyplace.com.
Remember, the whole reason you’re feeling this way is a lack of sunlight, so get outside when you can. Besides, those bright rays are also thought to trigger the release of the serotonin, the “happiness hormone,” in your brain. If the sky’s clear, take advantage of your lunch break to take a walk in the park, which is even better if you’re with a friend. What are the Benefits of Sunlight? – healthline.com.
Using Light Therapy
Light therapy replaces the sunshine that you don’t get enough of during the winter, even when you do go outside for a stroll. How it works is simple: You sit in front of a light box for between 15 minutes and two hours and let the healing rays reestablish the natural rhythms that govern your body during the warmer times of the year. How to Choose a Light Box by lighttherapyproducts.com.
It’s cathartic to release negative thoughts and emotions onto a piece of paper rather than keeping them bottled up in your brain, where they can only do harm. Often, once your fears and anxieties are exposed to the light of day, they become less imposing as well as easier to understand and manage. Plus, writing is often just a lot of fun. Why Write? by writingthroughlife.com.
Studies show that this ancient practice may be as effective as medication in relieving depression and anxiety. This is one of the reasons that mindfulness meditation has grown so much in popularity over the last few decades, and all you need to join in is a quiet place in your home that’s free from distraction.
Balanced meals packed with nutrients and spread evenly throughout the day can help keep your energy levels up, and that does wonders for your mood. Remember to add probiotics such as kimchi and yogurt to your regimen, as they can help to maintain a healthy microbiota in your gut, which has a strong effect on your mental well-being.
Getting some exercise does much more than help you shed some of that winter weight, leading to more efficient processing of negative emotions in the prefrontal cortex and a greater sense of positivity, according to a writer with Fitness magazine. You’ll also become more resistant to stress and boost your cognitive performance. 10 Ways Exercise Improves Your Mood – fitnessmagazine.com.
Getting to Sleep
Getting good rest is often easier said than done, as insomnia is one of the symptoms of the disorder. However, there are ways to relax and doze off on time, every night. Establish an evening routine that begins by shutting off electronic devices, then follow that up with a hot shower, a mug of herbal tea, and a good book when you’re under the covers.
Spring will be here soon, and with it comes more sunshine, spelling an end to the dreaded symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. In the meantime, stay strong for yourself and your loved ones. Everything really will be alright.