The winter is here and it brings dark and cold weather. All you want to do in this weather is snuggle up with your loved ones and stay nice and warm. Some people are affected more than others with winter illnesses. If the shorter days and the weather alterations have drained all your energy and made you feel a little depressed, then you have the classic symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that is related to the daylight and weather changes that happen in the winter. It is unknown why people get SAD, some studies suggest it is the disruption of the circadian rhythm and other studies suggest it is a change in hormone balances such as serotonin and melatonin. In this article, we will go through some helpful tips on how to deal with seasonal affective disorder.
- Feelings of depression that lasts all day but seasonally
- Detached from activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite or weight gain
- Tiredness and low energy
- Sleeping too much
If you feel these symptoms, here are some helpful tips on how to reduce the symptoms.
Vitamin D is naturally framed in the body and is produced by a chemical reaction when our skin is exposed to daylight. If you go out in the sun for 15 minutes a day, this will be enough for your recommended daily amount. If you are feeling depressed, then this could be due to a vitamin D deficiency which is very common with people who suffer from SAD. Experts are not 100% sure whether vitamin D supplements help with SAD but allowing yourself to consume foods rich with vitamin D and getting outdoors may help with your symptoms.
In the winter months, it is natural to feel like you want a drink, and many people drink for different reasons in times of stress or depression. When one is feeling these symptoms, they are more likely to drink alcohol, but in reality, due to alcohol being a depressant, it can have adverse effects and cause further depression which is why people get themselves in darker holes. If you find yourself drinking more often or heavier than usual, you could face addiction which will be much harder to get out of.
If you are suffering from SAD, then you will need to get outside for as long as you can during the daytime to get the sunlight you need. If it is a cold day, wrap up and go for a stroll around the block. It’s completely understandable that some days it is just too cold, dark or wet to go outside so another option is to open your curtains or blinds to let as much natural sunlight into your home. If you are working from home, ensure you are working next to a window to get the light during the day. Lamps and other artificial light are much dimmer so it won’t work the same way and can affect SAD negatively.
Exercise is good for many different reasons including promoting a healthy heart and giving you a positive attitude which helps to relieve the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Exercise can also help to remove the excess body weight that you have put on through the depression as it is always best to stick to your fitness routine throughout the winter months.
Outdoor exercise is always best during the winter months as this helps to get your daily dose of sunlight but if you can’t get outside, then opt for an exercise machine near a window so that you can achieve your daily dose of sunlight. Age is just a number and fitness is just as important as you get older. Implementing exercise in your daily routine will not only keep your mind healthy but also keep you feeling young.
Social events are a great way to take your mind off everything going on. Some people find it best to make sure they have their winter months full of fun activities to do with their family and friends. This could be anything from joining a book club or just having weekly walks with your friends and their dog. The reason why this is a great idea is that there is a correlation between social isolation and depression so it is best to keep your interactions with others frequent. If you are struggling to get out of your house for various reasons, then it could be a fun idea to think of alternative methods of communicating and interacting with your friends and family such as a ZOOM call, a sit in the garden or small walks.
If you are struggling with seasonal affective disorder, then you should always speak to a health professional as they can prescribe medication such as antidepressants. If you do not want this type of medication then you may want to speak to someone instead. Either way, try these simple methods to help reduce symptoms.