The wind is howling, it’s too cold to go outside and the sky is dark. This would not be so bad if it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and you were looking forward to staying in and watching movies with your favorite companions. But what if it lasted a few days? A few weeks? A couple of months every year?
Sometimes no amount of positive thinking can jump start someone out of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when they are deep in it with no tools for escape.
SAD is traditionally considered the “winter blues” although it can happen throughout the year. It is recognized as a common disorder and the symptoms can vary but most commonly people with SAD experience the following*:
- Lack of energy
- Sleeping a lot, oversleeping, difficulty getting out of bed
- Feelings of depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Craving carbohydrates which can lead to weight gain
- Pessimistic feelings of hopelessness
I’m not trying to be a downer and the good news is there are things you can do to minimize the effects of SAD.
- Light therapy – using a light box which emits more lumens than a customary incandescent lamp
- More exposure to sunlight – spend time outdoors or making sure any outside sun can be reflected through your windows and doors
- Negative air ionization – releasing charged particles into the bedroom where you sleep
- Replenish your Vitamin D levels – consider supplements so long as they do not conflict with any other medications you are taking
- Physical exercise – if you can stand it, go for a 30-minute walk as many days of the week as possible. If you can’t even get the front door open because of the snow drifts, use your Wii or X-box to play physical games or dance music and get off the couch! Take the dry cleaning off of your stationary bike or rowing machine and set a timer for at least 10 minutes to start then add more minutes each day as you get back into the routine.
It’s easy to throw up our hands and say, I don’t feel like doing anything and I’ll snap out of it when the weather warms up. Don’t be passive about your health, take control of how you feel by integrating some basic strategies – you’ll feel great, you won’t gain the extra winter pounds, and your friends and family will thank you for it!
*If you feel your condition is more serious than SAD, please consult your physician.
Love and blessings,