Emotional Health

5 Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder

man and woman playing outside treating seasonal affective disorder

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Boost Your Mood When the Daylight Dwindles

We’ve all experienced the winter blues at one time or another, and these short days can depress your mood. Studies on seasonal affective disorder increasingly link a lack of light exposure to fatigue, overeating and a tendency to oversleep.

Practicing healthy habits like exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and a well-balanced diet can help you keep your spirits up when the daylight diminishes. Follow these five tips to tackle seasonal depression this winter.

1. Light Up Your Life

A lack of sunshine and the vitamin D it provides us is the root of seasonal affective disorder, therefore adding more light to your life is a sound way to cope. Light therapy boxes and dawn simulators are effective options, but even painting your walls a lighter color can work wonders. For a quick fix, replace your indoor lights with full spectrum bulbs or fully open your window treatments to let in the maximum amount of natural light.

2. Stay Busy

Start the winter season with a set of goals and an ideal schedule, however broad or specific you choose to define them. The holidays lend themselves to relaxing, but staying mentally active and occupied will help you fight fatigue. Regular work, whether scrapbooking or sorting out a cluttered closet, can keep you motivated and provide a profound sense of accomplishment when dreary weather gets you down.

3. Get Moving

Exercising in the winter can be hard – the cold weather can drain your motivation as much as your mood. Maintaining your workout schedule will not only help keep your spirits high and your time occupied, but you’ll already be in the habit and routine come springtime. Include as many outdoor activities, like ice-skating or snowshoeing, as possible to make the most of the natural light.

4. Change Your Diet

Eating healthy foods and consuming less caffeine are even more important in the winter when you’re battling the urge to stay in bed all day or hit snooze one more time. Supplement the minimal sunshine with vitamin D from salmon, tuna and trout or fortified milk and egg yolks. Your carb cravings in winter are usually the result of a lack of serotonin, so increase those feel-good chemicals with healthy carbohydrates like popcorn, pretzels and brown rice.

5. Consider Antidepressants

Seasonal affective disorder can result in severe winter depression. If you experience intense depressive periods during fall and winter including sleeping more than usual, a loss of energy and interest and an inability to focus that last for one week or more, consider seeing a behavioral health specialist.

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