For those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), late fall and winter can be difficult. This year, I seem to be affected earlier than ever. I’m already tired of winter and it’s only November. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, winter can be rough. It gets dark so early and the majority of the days are dreary! Here, we’ve also had a lot of rain, which I understand we need, but it can still be depressing.
But in order to stay as productive as we need to be, both at work and with our families, we have to learn to overcome this condition.
I was doing some research on how to deal with it better so I thought I would share some tips I learned in case some of you might be dealing with this as well. I suffered from the winter doldrums even in California so I don’t think it’s just a problem for people who live in the colder areas.
1. Be Aware of it.
It’s fairly normal to experience a bout of the winter doldrums, but if you notice that you are feeling sad for no reason, or that you have trouble sleeping, are craving comfort food and would prefer to spend your days lounging on the couch under a big blanket binge-watching your favorite series, you might be experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Of course, there are different degrees of it, but no matter what the degree, a solution begins with acknowledging it’s affecting you and knowing that there is help.
2. Be faithful to your routine.
Get up (and get dressed) at a set time every day. If you wear makeup, put it on. While it may be tempting to hit the snooze button over and over and lounge around in your PJs all day, don’t do it.
3. Get some exercise.
Whether it’s time at the gym, a dance class or a walk in the neighborhood, getting out and being active will help improve your mood.
4. See some humans.
If you don’t work outside the home, it can be tempting to avoid the weather and just stay in but it’s important to get some social interaction. Make a lunch date with a friend or invite them over for coffee, go to a coffee shop and bring your laptop or participate in a group exercise class such as Zumba or Barre.
5. Be careful about how you are fueling yourself physically.
Try to lower your carb intake as carbs can add to that sluggish, sleepy feeling. If you are going to eat some carbs, eat them later in the evening when energy is not needed as much (unless you work nights). Salads may seem too “chilly” for winter but soups with lots of veggies are always a good option!
6. Be mindful of how you are fueling yourself spiritually.
During the winter, it’s especially important to say positive things to yourself. Try affirmations, write in a gratitude journal, set a time to worship or listen to uplifting podcasts. These can help you stay in a better frame of mind.
7. Add supplements.
My vitamin D levels tend to plummet in the winter so I started taking extra vitamin D supplements. I also add Magnesium and an Apple Cider Vinegar gummy (with vitamin B12 and b9) from Goli. Always check with your physician before adding supplements and be sure to mention which ones you are taking when you go for your wellness checks.
8. Bonus: Try light therapy
Many experts believe that SAD is caused by decreased exposure to light. Studies have shown that light therapy (or phototherapy) can improve mood in 60-80% of people with SAD. This kind of light has no UV rays because they are blocked with a plastic screen. Light therapy boxes range in intensity, up to 10,000 lux of light. The recommended therapy is to sit in front of the lightbox for 30 minutes per day, usually in the morning. It’s considered safe for most people but some people such as those with diabetes or retinopathies should not do it. Certain medications would also make the therapy contraindicated. Check with your physician before trying. I’ll be trying this out soon and will report back.
PS These great boots were given to me by White Mountain Shoes and can be found here.
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