SEVEN NATURAL WAYS TO MANAGE SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that rears its head during the cold, dark months. An estimated 6% of people suffer from this type of depression, and it’s especially prevalent in Northern climates.
If you have SAD., it’s a good idea to talk to a mental health professional and consider whether medication is right for you. But if you are still struggling, there are some things you can do to manage your mood naturally as well. Here’s how you can keep your SAD under control during the cooler and colder months. >>>
ONE: INVEST IN A LIGHT BOX.
Light therapy is the most effective treatment for SAD that’s been discovered so far. Most people get very little natural sunlight in the winter, and this lack of sunlight can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Sitting in front of a light box, which imitates natural light, for as little as 15 minutes a day can help restore the internal balance and relieve SAD symptoms. Talk to your doctor before you buy a light box to make sure you get one that’s safe and effective.
TWO: GET REGULAR EXERCISE.
Most types of depression respond well to exercise, and SAD is no exception. It might feel especially difficult to put on your workout gear and head out the door when it’s cold outside. But you’ll feel so much better once you do. Just half an hour of moderate exercise everyday can make a significant difference in your mood. And if you happen to have workout equipment like a treadmill or stationary bike at home, you won’t even have to brave the freezing temperatures outside.
THREE: FOCUS ON NUTRITION.
SAD can make you crave sugary or starchy comfort foods. Add holiday cooking and baking to the picture and eating well during becomes a real challenge. Do your best to resist temptation. The cleaner your diet is, the better you’ll feel. Make an effort to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Add fatty fish to your diet, too, since fish is high in mood-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. Finally, consider taking a vitamin D supplement. The majority of people don’t get enough of this nutrient, and researchers think that a vitamin D deficiency can contribute to depression.
FOUR: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SUNLIGHT WHILE YOU CAN.
Whenever you have the chance to soak in some sunshine, do so. Bundle up and take a walk if the weather is unusually good. The sunlight and exercise will both lift your mood. If it’s too cold to go out or if you’re at work, try to sit by a brightly-lit window for a while.
FIVE: CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE.
It’s all too easy to self-medicate with alcohol or caffeine when you’re not feeling your best. But in the long run, these substances usually hurt your mood more than they help it. While you might get some short-term pleasure from sipping that glass of wine or an extra cup of coffee, afterward you might find yourself feeling irritable, jittery, or more depressed than before. You don’t have to give up the occasional Indulgence, but keep your intake Moderate, and make sure you’re not just using alcohol or caffeine to artificially boost your mood.
SIX: STAY CONNECTED TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Social support makes a huge difference in how well you cope when you’re feeling down. Make an effort to maintain a social life this winter, even if you’d really rather isolate yourself at home. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family about your struggles with SAD, either. Talking about your feelings will help you feel better, and you’ll probably find support in a lot of unexpected places.
SEVEN: STICK TO A REGULAR ROUTINE.
The more regularity you have in your life, the better you’ll be able to deal with the emotional ups and downs of SAD. Start by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Yes, even on weekends. Next, create a schedule for doing things like showering, cleaning the house, and exercising. Keeping up with the basics will help you feel more productive and emotionally stable on a day-to-day basis.
The takeaway. SAD is as serious as any other form of depression, and you may never be able to get rid of it entirely. But, if you establish some good health and lifestyle habits, you’ll probably notice some improvements in your symptoms and you might even start enjoying the cooler and colder months. Of course, these tips can’t replace advice from a medical professional. if your SAD symptoms become severe, talk to your doctor. BIKINI
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