Even though I love New England hard-core, I deal with seasonal affective disorder every winter. If you do too, this past weekend’s frigid temps and wind chill probably made it worse. The good news? Daylight savings time is 28 days away!
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression associated with the change in seasons, for most people it’s fall and winter. You may not have any depressive issues during other times of the year, but you feel down in the doldrums when the days get shorter and the temperatures start plummeting (depending on where you live of course).
Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
For some reason, SAD has thrown me for a serious loop this winter (I haven’t felt motivated to do ANYTHING!), and I’m SUPER EXCITED that the time change is right around the corner. If you also suffer from seasonal affective disorder, here are some things you can do to cope:
Exercise As Much As You Can
Exercise, a natural antidepressant, will get your endorphins going and help you to feel better. Even if it’s not running, find something you like to do that keeps you moving. Maybe try an indoor yoga class if the temperature is too cold outside, or even an exercise video if you can’t muster up the motivation to leave the house!
Just like a run, you will never feel worse when you’re done! Your motivation may feel lacking in the winter months, but try to make it happen and I will 99.9% guarantee it will make you feel better afterwards.
Go Somewhere Warm and Sunny!
If you can swing it in your budget, plan a winter getaway to somewhere warm and sunny. If you have budget constraints, go for a weekend or find a buddy and split the cost! Getting a nice healthy dose of warmth and sunshine can do wonders for your mood.
If you suffer from SAD each winter, try setting aside money throughout the year for a getaway. When fall hits, start making plans. The planning process will keep you busy, and you will have something fun to look forward to when you’re felling low!
Light therapy can do wonders for seasonal affective disorder. You can purchase a light therapy box (uses regular light bulbs) and sit in front of it for 30 minutes a day. Research has shown that you get the best benefits using it in the morning. The regular exposure to an extra dose of light can help regulate your circadian rhythms.
Hang Out With Friends
Schedule time out of the house with friends and family. Being with others, socializing, usually helps to improve your mood. It also gives you something to look forward to during the week. Make plans for dinner, coffee, a movie, or whatever you like!
Medication (Pharmaceutical and Alternative)
You may find that your seasonal affective disorder is so debilitating that you need to try antidepressant medication, perhaps just for the season. Talk to your doctor and see if medication might be a good option for you. If you want to try a natural treatment, you can look at melatonin, omega 3-fatty acids, SAMe or St John’s wort.
Psychotherapy can play an important role in managing seasonal affective disorder. Meeting regularly with a therapist can help you manage stress, learn effective coping methods, and change thought patterns that can make SAD worse. It never hurts to schedule a session and see if it helps you feel better!
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
When you are dealing with SAD, you can find that you are waking up more at night and consequently having a hard time waking in the morning. Try to stick to a regular schedule for your sleep/wake times. A consistent sleep schedule will keep your exposure to light constant and help mediate the depression.
Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? How do you cope?