Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD for short, is no stranger to the months of January through March. As the sun trades off with the moon much earlier and the temperature drops to unbearable lows, it sometimes takes everything in our being to not curl up in the covers and not releasing ourselves from the tangle of sheets until spring.
SAD, a common form of depression during the colder months, is known to be the cause of these sluggish feelings of sadness, low energy, mood shifts, and weight gain. A lack of sufficient sunlight can certainly take its toll on our bodies and our health but it doesn’t have to stay this way. We don’t need to surrender until April like our groundhog friend.
Thankfully, SAD is something we can work to ward off in a natural and healthy way. So let’s start beating the blues right out of our system.
1) Eat with the season, not with the mood
The winter months have a tendency to make us stockpile carbs as if we were heading for hibernation. Though we may be craving the comfort foods, loading up on carbs won’t make our mood any better or pull us from bed any faster. In fact, they will do just the opposite.
Stick with the protein rich foods that you turn to during the summer months and ward off those sugar urges. Take advantage of the cold weather and try out some new recipes, perhaps a vegetable stew? Keeping a protein and nutrient packed diet all year round will keep you moving forward and feeling good throughout the winter and help to keep the SAD from getting the best of you.
2) Get out of the house!
I will be the first one to admit that spending some time outside by choice during these frigid months is not on my to-do list. However, it should be, especially if we want to start gaining some energy to get us through the day.
Whenever possible make it a point to get outside, take a short walk, or just sit in the sunlight for ten to twenty minutes. The extra addition of sunshine to your day may not seem like it could make a significant difference but even just that little amount will leave you feeling happier and healthier and staying strong until springtime.
3) Don’t give up on the gym routine
I am firm believer that breaking a sweat is the best way to beat the blues that winter piles onto our shoulders. It is easier to lace up the sneakers and head out for the trails during June or July but just because its colder outside is no reason to skip out on the cardio and strength training. Exercise is proven to boost a person’s mood and is a great way to decrease feelings of SAD.
Set some new fitness goals, try a new DVD, take your workout routine out the box to shake things up and keep you fired up for beach weather, it will be here before we know it.
4) Draw back the curtains
Whether it is the house or the office, make it a priority to let the sun shine in whenever possible. The extra exposure to the sunlight will be a mood booster.
5) Pull off the covers
When it comes to matters of sleeping it may seem like second nature to press the snooze button and sleep for a little bit longer but it is wise to stick to your regular sleeping schedule, no matter how tempting it might be to stay curled up in bed. Hibernation is for bears, not for human beings.
One way to ward off SAD is to not let the winter weather and her chilly mornings dictate your sleeping habits. Keep getting up and getting active as the only option.
6) Add some light to your life
Often a common treatment for SAD, using a light box can be both effective and one of the best ways to beat the winter blues. Light boxes provide ten times the light of a living room lamp and one is able to go about a daily routine even while using the light box. The extra exposure to the light will trigger chemicals in the brain to boost your mood. Most people are recommended to use the light box for 30 minutes each day. However, you should consult with a doctor before using this treatment device.
7) Supplement it
Vitamin D and other mood-boosting natural supplements may just be what you need to stay energized and feeling good throughout these longer days. The sun goes down earlier and we are prone to letting the energy drain out of us but adding a supplement such as Vitamin D can improve our moods and keep us holding our heads up high until spring rolls through to the front of the calendar. Check out your local health food store to see what supplements might work best for you.