It is not surprising that the darkness of winter affects our mood. The combination of less sunlight, colder temperatures, and decreased physical activity can all lead to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a seasonally-specific type of depression, brought on by the drastic difference of wintertime from other (more sunny) seasons. It is a result of an actual change in our hormonal balances, and can cause weight gain, mood swings, fatigue, and a lack of focus and concentration. Antidepressants are one form of treatment, but there are some other more natural tactics you can try before turning to prescription drugs.
6 Natural Ways to Overcome Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder
Chase the daylight. No matter how little sunshine is available during the day, try to get outside whenever you can and enjoy it. Even just bundling up and taking a walk on your lunch break will do wonders of good. Although the weather is cold, getting outside, breathing deeply, and taking in the beautiful sights will be sure to lift your spirits.
Light up your life. Light Therapy Boxes can be very helpful in overcoming seasonal depression. Because the brain has to work overtime to produce melatonin when less light is around, adding a little more light within eyesight will take some of the load off. Not ready to take the leap with light therapy just yet? Start by just adding more lighting in your home, and be diligent about turning on lights when you need to stay alert and awake.
Plan a trip. Live in a climate that’s always cold and dark during the winter? Plan a vacation to somewhere warm during the coldest month. Even just planning a long weekend away will give you something to look forward to, and your spirits will be lifted when visiting a warmer more sun-soaked locale.
Drink less alcohol. Alcohol can be a temptation during the cold winter months, as a comfort and a distraction. However, alcohol is a depressant in itself and can end up doing more harm than good when it comes to combating the winter blues. Tea and hot apple cider are wonderful substitutes, as they’re just as comforting without the negative effects. These warm drinks will also promote natural sleep, rather than disrupt it.
Make exercise a priority. Even if it’s too cold to get outside for a workout, find a way to get your blood pumping. Exercise is a natural way to boost mood and prevent depression, so even if you have to find a workout video on YouTube or do jumping jacks in your living room, get that body moving!
Get help. Professional therapy is a wonderful way to combat depression, no matter what type. On a tight budget? Check out 7 Cups. It’s an online emotional support system that could be exactly the help you need with working out all of your seasonal feels.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real problem, but the good news is that it’s entirely treatable. By making a few simple changes to your routine you’ll enjoy a healthier and happier winter season!
[Credit: Erman, Aylin & Lebowitz, Shana. “6 Ways to Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Greatist.]
[Credit: Kirchheimer, Sid. “Beating Winter’s Woes.” WebMD.]