Did you know that seasonal depression currently impacts roughly 10 million people in America? Did you know that typically women are 4 times more likely to suffer from this disorder? Seasonal depression is also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is when you go through a large shift in your mood and energy for months of the year. When Autumn rolls around and our clocks are set back, SAD really starts to set in and can be rather debilitating for people. This is especially common for those that live in areas with major changes in temperature. Those that live in areas that have minimal changes in seasons are mostly spared of SAD.
Since we can’t control mother nature and can’t go through months of the year feeling drained and depressed, what can we do?
1) Get a Light Therapy Lamp!
This was key for me! I invested in a SAD Lamp , as they are also called, at the start of October and it has been a game changer for me. I was pretty hesitant to buy one last year, but my depression was so bad last winter I figured I’d at least try this out and if it didn’t work, I could just return it. Now it is part of my daily routine. As soon as I wake up I turn on my lamp and do my yoga and morning stretches. I’ll typically leave this on for the first hour of the day and it truly has helped me to feel so awake and alert!
Some things to note about light therapy lamps are that there are a ton of different options so you can find one that works for you. The one I use takes up minimal space and is aesthetically pleasing to look at, which is a bonus! They also have intensity options so you can find the right intensity for you. When shopping for one make sure you are getting one without UV rays which is the standard, but is good to check!
Getting exercise can help with depression and anxiety regardless of the season. When you exercise you are boosting your serotonin levels which improve your mood. Some people find that starting their day with some movement can lead to a better mood through the rest of the day. I start everyday with my yoga and physical therapy and try to boost my serotonin levels! Whether it’s slow movement like this or getting a good sweat in, just find what helps you the most!
3) Balanced Nutrition
One of the hardest parts of winter are the holidays and the parties and meals that come with them! While I practice balance I do have to remind myself during this time that I shouldn’t overdo those carbs! When every table is full of rolls, desserts and heavy side dishes, it becomes very easy to miss out on vital nutrients and find yourself overconsuming carbs, which leads to you feeling even more tired. In general the over consumption of carbs will leave you feeling exhausted. This doesn’t mean to avoid carbs! Just balance these carbs with your fats and protein!
4) Get Plenty of Water
With so many fun holiday drinks out there, you may completely forget you still need to drink water! Who doesn’t love holidays cocktails, hot chocolate, apple cider and those seasonal coffee drinks, but all of these are typically loaded with sugar and so you should make sure to prioritize water and you may notice you actually need even more water than usual! Focus on getting 2-3 liters of water in!
5) Make Plans!
When it’s freezing outside we all tend to want to stay inside where it is warm, but while we stay warm we miss out on socializing with others and the feeling of excitement knowing there are big plans ahead. So make plans with others, plan a trip if you can and make sure you still have things to be excited about!
6) Get in the Sun as Much as Possible
It can be hard to push yourself to get outside when it’s really cold, but bundling up and getting in that sunlight can really help to boost your mood. If it’s really too cold to get outside, make sure to open up those curtains and blinds and let in as much sunlight into your home or office as you can.
7) Vitamin D
This is another thing that has really helped me as well. I take Vitamin D daily and it helps make up for the lack of sunlight. You can talk to your doctor and they can actually run a test to see if you have low levels of Vitamin D and tell you how much to take daily to improve your mood! A lot of people who work inside struggle with this throughout the entire year, so if you constantly feel exhausted, it may be helpful to have your doctor do the bloodwork for you.
8) Talk to a Therapist
If you find yourself getting depressed this time of year, don’t hesitate to talk to someone. Whether it’s the cold weather or the holidays bringing up tough memories, finding someone to talk to can help you to work through the difficult feelings you are having. They can also help you to work through ways to manage the impact of seasonal depression and tools that will best benefit you.
9) Self Care Time!
Don’t forget to take time for yourself! It seems counterintuitive, but even though we spend more time at home doing a lot of nothing, that doesn’t mean we are doing activities for ourselves. Remember to take time to pamper yourself. Maybe you like to take baths, have a skin care routine or create art. Whatever you do that makes you feel more in touch with yourself, should remain a priority.
So let’s make this season the best it can be and reduce our wintertime blues!
Until next time… and remember happiness is for all!