Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, is a mood disorder that comes at the same time of year — every year. Symptoms often begin to occur in late autumn or early winter, but a less common summer version of the disorder can begin in late spring.
People who suffer from SAD tend to notice changes in appetite, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and other symptoms. If left untreated, the disorder can lead to feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. With that said, it is critical that you start taking steps to deal with it if you notice symptoms of SAD in your life. Along with talking to a Krave Lyfe mental health counselor, here are five practical ways to supplement your treatment for seasonal depression.
If you’re struggling with depression or any other mental health issues, reach out to Krave Lyfe Mental Health Counseling for therapy tailored to your individual needs. Send us a message or call 360-506-4886.
Self-care is important for everyone all the time. However, in the winter, it may be even more essential for living a healthy overall life. When you take steps to care for your mental and emotional health, it will inevitably have a positive effect on your battle with seasonal affective disorder. Getting sleep, eating well, meditating, personal hygiene, decluttering, and other self-care practices can go a long way in boosting your mood and self-confidence.
Put a Move on It
There are many physical benefits that come with working out, but it is also one of the best things you can do for your mental and emotional health. The feel-good hormones that are released in the brain during exercise offer a sort of short-term reward, and when this release happens on a regular basis, it has a way of making problems feel more manageable. Also, having a workout to focus on can protect you from harmful self-talk, and many who choose a social exercise routine (class, gym, running group) find it to be fun and rejuvenating.
Find the Sun
It is widely believed that the reduced amount of sunlight and shorter days during the winter contribute to seasonal affective disorder. That’s why it’s important for those struggling with the disorder to take advantage of the times of day when the sun is out. Taking a 30-minute stroll in the early afternoon — when the sun is at its brightest — can energize you and give you something to look forward to each day. However, when you’re inside, be sure to draw the blinds to allow sunlight in throughout the day.
Focus on Foods that Help
Many people turn to comfort foods when their depression flares up. And while this is okay once in a while, sticking to comfort foods like mac and cheese, cookies, lasagna and the like can leave you with sugar crashes later, which can inhibit your desire to get moving. In addition, your gut microbiome can take a hit when you’re not eating enough whole grains, fruits and vegetables or foods with prebiotics and probiotics (yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, almond milk). Give yourself permission to enjoy the foods that comfort you, but make a point to focus on eating healthy 80% of the time. This ensures you’ve got the energy you need and that your gut stays in check.
Do Light Therapy
Sometimes, climate or weather doesn’t allow us to spend time outside. That’s when light therapy comes in handy. Light therapy devices come in several forms, and they can prove very effective for simulating sunlight and boosting mood. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of these devices is that they help regulate the body’s internal clock and melatonin production, which, in turn, helps your sleep patterns and metabolism become consistent.
Seasonal depression is not something to take lightly. If you’re anticipating symptoms of seasonal affective disorder come winter, you need to address it now. Start by prioritizing your self-care and coming up with a steady exercise routine. Try to get as much sunshine as you can in the afternoon hours, and purchase a light therapy device for when you’re indoors. Finally, don’t isolate yourself — get out there and make plans to enjoy social activities.
Photo Credit: Pexels