Are you feeling SAD?
The leaves are falling. Hour by hour the days are getting shorter. Gray is filling the sky. These are all signs of winter. While some love the season, many suffer from SAD. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a temporary mood disorder that’s characterized by depression–this disorder occurs to most people roughly around the same time every year. SAD is a common issue for many with a documented 3 million people affected every year in the United States
Symptoms of SAD can include fatigue, depression, and social withdrawal. SAD may immensely impact one’s day to day life and overall well being. This disorder can make one feel hopeless and can cause loss of interest in relationships and activities. It can also cause insomnia, excess sleep, and appetite changes.
Ways to Reduce Symptoms
One of the largest causes from SAD is a lack of natural light exposure to the body. Light therapy is highly recommended to reduce the symptoms SAD and there are at-home interventions that mimic light therapy. The most popular DIY intervention is a happy light. The Happy Light mimics daylight and can improve your overall mood and energy levels. You can purchase a Happy Light here .
Another way to reduce the impact of SAD on your life is to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule. Exercise boosts endorphins in your body. Endorphins are a chemical in your body that can trigger positive feelings. Exercise can not only alter your mood but reduce stress. Overall it’s an emotional booster, and can immensely help with SAD symptoms.
Eating healthy is a component that will complement daily exercise well. Foods that will help one’s SAD symptoms are:
- Omega 3 fatty acids (Chia seeds, flaxseed, soybeans)
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B
While you may feel like you’re the only one experiencing SAD, millions of people are going through the same thing. Help yourself and those around you by socializing and continuing to get out there–even on the dreary days. If you’re finding it difficult to get out of the house make it a weekly practice. Having a standing date with a friend or loved one and socializing in a unique environment will serve as a good motivator to get out of your house!
Taking an optimistic look at the weather, instead of looking at the weather as a culprit may make it an opportunity. Try experimenting with fueling your dread into optimism. Cold weather provides many opportunities that warm weather doesn’t. Hit the ice skating rink, try skiing, look for holiday light displays, take a walk in the snow, look up local community events with a winter theme, try out your local sauna, or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at your favorite cafe.
If you feel you are experiencing SAD, try out one of the suggestions above. There have been many studies that have shown that light therapy, diet, exercise, and socializing help with SAD symptoms. If you feel you need further help, Health for Life Grand Rapids is here for you. We offer a number of therapies as well as health coaching… no matter what the weather is like!
Learn more about how to beat the winter blues on Dr. Nicole Cain’s blog here.