Are you suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? It’s a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, usually the wintertime. Typically, the symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. They drain you of energy and make you feel down and moody. It is not uncommon to have a mild case of SAD, or the “winter blues.” To fight them off naturally, try following these steps:
- Eat right. Eating the right kinds of foods plays a vital role in coping with winter sadness. Opt for green vegetables over fried food. Vitamin D is important as well; you can get it from mushrooms or natural vitamin D3 supplements. Your body can also make its own by about 20 minutes or so of exposure to the sun.
- Which takes us to: getting your daily dose of sunlight. Exposure to the sun doesn’t only increase vitamin D, it will help regulate your internal clock, ensuring better sleep. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to brave the cold for it. Try sitting in a room near a sunny window.
- Exercise. It’s easy to get lazy during the winter. Curling up in a cozy blanket may be more tempting than going to the gym. However, it is important to remain motivated to exercise, even if this means taking out a workout dvd at home. Exercising raises serotonin levels which get low when you have winter blues.
- Wear bright colors. Colors are mood lifters. Choose shades like red, yellow, blue, or pink to encourage optimism.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Although alcohol can serve to temporarily elevate your mood, it is a depressant.
- Take up a winter activity. Whether it is snowboarding, skiing, ice skating, sledding, winter photography, or hiking, it is important to embrace the beauty of winter.
- Dress for the cold. Many people hate the winter because they are cold all the time. If you are one of those people, re-examine whether you are appropriately dressed. Make sure that you are sufficiently covering your hands, feet, and head. Layers help!
- Fill up your calendar with something to look forward to weekly.
- Make sure you have an enjoyable hobby for indoors. It’s a good time to pick up a new book or puzzle.
If these steps don’t work, you may have a more severe case of SAD and should consult a doctor. Light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication are other options. Be sure to take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year!