As the season changes, you will experience less daylight and lower temperatures, affecting your mood and health. Many people feel less energetic during winter, but they are those who suffer from the seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD isn’t the winter blues; it’s something more serious that affects your day-to-day life and sleep.
SAD is a form of depression that comes around yearly; it often begins in late fall or early winter. Shorter days have fewer hours of sunlight, which may impact your hormonal imbalance, making you depressed. There is a treatment for SAD, and you can resolve it within a few months.
The symptoms of SAD are similar to depression. The symptoms include sadness, hopelessness, a loss of interest in activities, sleep problems, fatigue, and social withdrawal. It’s prevalent among women, the young, and people who live far from the equator. Ten million Americans are affected by SAD.
If you experience SAD, you may feel excessively sleepy during the day and sleep longer than usual at night. You may sleep two hours longer than during summer, have difficulty waking up from long periods of sleep, or have the urge to nap repeatedly during the day. You may also experience more nightmares.
Seasonal depression does not have to be an annual inevitability. Here’s how you can combat it.
Lighten Up or Darken Down
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression during fall or winter. Treatment can involve talk therapy and possibly light treatment. Light treatment can come in a light box, which delivers therapeutic light doses. Before you use a light box, you should consult your healthcare provider first.
You will need to find a lightbox explicitly created for SAD. Lightboxes come with varying degrees of intensity. The recommendation is that you get one with 10,000 lux light intensity. Remember that the more light intensity, the less time you will need to use it. Their sizes also vary; you might want a more portable unit if you travel often. They usually have a design to reduce UV light that can damage your eye; if you have an eye condition, consult your optometrist before you proceed.
Plan Social Time
When the season starts to change, you make preparations in your life like your wardrobe and house. It would help if you did the same thing with your mind and social life. Plan for the change in season so that you are engaged in healthy activities and social gatherings. Spending time with family and friends can help stave off depression. For this to work, you must be intentional and act early.
Maintain Sleep Cycle
Your body operates through a circadian rhythm, your body’s clock. The circadian rhythm is important in letting your body know when it’s time to be active and when it’s time to sleep. The change in sunlight hours can have an adverse effect on your circadian rhythm and disrupt its rhythm, which will impact your sleep patterns.
Sleep is essential for your health and mood. It would be best if you had it to rest and recharge your body and mind. With good rest, you can dampen the effects of SAD and give yourself a better season. If the change in weather can disrupt your circadian rhythm, then you need to establish good sleeping habits before the turn of the season.
Prioritize Eye Protection
Sunlight has good benefits for your health, but it also comes with risks. Overexposure to UV rays can harm your eyes. In colder weather, you will be keen to spend as much time in the warm sun as possible. The temperatures will make it appealing, and you will likely spend hours, if not the entire day, in the sun. To protect your eyes, purchase durable and high quality sunglasses that minimize exposure to the sun. You can also consider buying prescription sunglasses online as a more convenient method.
Head Outside or Stay In
Try to go outside and get as much sun as possible. Sunlight is a great mood booster, so you should try to get as much of it as possible. If it’s cold, the best time to go outside is usually at noon, when the sun is at its brightest and warmest.
If you want to spend time indoors, open the curtains and blinders. Let in as much sun as you can as you go about your day indoors. If you are working or studying from home, then choose a space that is in natural light. Artificial lights, like indoor lighting, are usually dimmer than natural light and can exacerbate your SAD symptoms.
- Put Health First
Your body produces what you put into it. So if you live on only junk food, it won’t feel so good. If you switch to healthier foods, your body will feel energized and capable of anything, which can help against depression.
Along with a healthy diet, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. That means becoming active through sports, hobbies, and exercise. You can go for long walks, go hiking, join a gym, or participate in social sports. If your body gets that cardio, it will become less prone to bouts of depression.
Treat your SAD symptoms.
A change in weather doesn’t mean you have to live with a change in mood. Thrive as your best self for yourself and those around you. Take the necessary steps to avoid getting SAD by following the strategies detailed in this article. Be ready to face and conquer any symptoms that bring you down and enable yourself to live a more positive and fulfilling lifestyle.