A lot of people feel a little more melancholy or tired with the reduced light and warmth of the fall into winter. However, if you have the same symptoms each year and it affects your quality of life until winter turns to spring, you may have SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a kind of depression that appears at a certain time of year. For most people it begins in the fall when the days get shorter and it can last throughout winter.
SAD can affect your mood, sleep, appetite and energy levels while taking a toll on your entire life, including your sense of self.
The good news is that, like most forms of depression, SAD is highly treatable. Here are 5 self-help strategies that may help you cope this year.
Get outside for 30min in the middle of the day and go for a walk. Even on a cloudy day you will get enough of the right kind of light. It will help activate your brain and you will find the energy SAD steals from you.
You may crave the comfort of junk food and empty carbs as the days get shorter. Rather stay away from unhealthy snacks that may cause momentary relief but ultimately depletes your energy and may even cause weight gain.
Try to limit your sleep to 8 hours a day. Set a regular bedtime and try to wake up at the same time each day. Try to expose yourself to the early morning sunshine. This will give you more energy to face the day ahead.
Plan a schedule that helps you keep active and engaged with others. Research shows that regular exercise and pleasant social activities can be effective ways to lessen the depressive impact of SAD.
You may be tempted to stay inside and hide from the world. Resist these solitary tendencies. Find a cold-weather hobby that gives you pleasure and keeps you busy.
Therapy can help you change your mindset and give you the tools to manage stress and cope with this mood disorder. Psychotherapy is an effective treatment of SAD, with long term benefits.
SAD robs you of joy in your daily life. If you suspect that you feel it, take care of it immediately. Monitor your mood and energy levels and seek help sooner rather than later.