Do you feel unusually sad or isolated during the winter months? If so, there’s a possibility that you’re suffering from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Now, it’s important to note that this can be a very severe form of depression, and it’s not to be taken lightly.
Most people who experience SAD experience a mild form of winter blues. But some people on the other end of the spectrum can become severely depressed.
No matter where you fall, it’s crucial that you address symptoms of seasonal affective disorder before they begin to disrupt your life.
You can’t control the seasons. And most of us don’t have the luxury of moving to where it’s warm and sunny every day. So, what can you do about seasonal affective disorder?
Follow these tips to help you cope on the days when seasonal affective disorder gets the best of you.
Try Light Therapy
SAD tends to be at its worst when the skies are grey, and the weather is unbearably cold. During these times, it’s difficult to get sunlight. But sunlight is precisely what you need.
Studies have shown that a daily dose of bright light is an effective mood-elevating therapy, especially when you get that dose in the early morning.
When light enters the retina, it gets converted into nerve impulses that are sent back to areas of the brain involved in emotional regulation.
Since early morning light exposure is best, you may want to invest in a light therapy box that you can use as soon as you wake up. Try to aim for 20-minute sessions every morning. This should vastly improve your outlook on the day.
If you aren’t already exercising regularly, it’s time to start. Regular exercise can ease symptoms of SAD, like depression, even when the weather is at its worst.
And here’s some good news…
You don’t need an intense workout to get the benefits of exercise. You simply need to commit to elevate your heart rate daily. You can even go for a walk to get your endorphins pumping.
When depression sets in, your natural instinct is to withdraw. But if you’ve ever been there, you know that isolation will only worsen your depression. Even when it’s the last thing you want to do, get yourself out of the house. Meet friends for coffee, go to the library or attend a class.
There are different levels of interaction, and you can choose the one that feels right, but do something productive. When you sit inside, you’re left with too much time to dwell on your problems and negative feelings.
If possible, spend time with loved ones when you feel you need some extra support. You may have to force yourself, and that’s okay as long as you do it.
Not only can meditation help combat symptoms of depression, but it can also force you to stop living in the past or worrying about the future.
Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment, and meditation can help you get there.
As you might imagine, mindfulness has many benefits. And as you get better at it, you’ll learn to appreciate each moment for what it is actually worth. This is a stark contrast to what most of us do, which is continually living in our own heads.
Especially when you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you want to spend more time getting out of your own head.
Many people who suffer from SAD make the mistake of relying on alcohol to get them through the difficult moments. Unfortunately, this will only worsen depression and can lead to addiction. If you’ve gone down this path yourself, there’s a way out. Find treatment for alcoholism first, and then you can start treating seasonal affective disorder in the right direction.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can get intense, but there’s a silver lining. Because this form of depression is so closely related to the changing seasons, there’s likely an end in sight (at least for now).
Understand that this condition is intermittent, which means you’ll get relief soon. In the meantime, do whatever it takes to feel better. But remember to keep your efforts productive and not destructive.