| By Kimberly Hayes |
The days of winter are shorter, colder, and darker than any other time of year. Many of us tend to spend more time indoors, struggling to cope with a general and unwavering feeling of melancholy known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you or someone you know is having difficulty staying well during this period, here are some tips to feel better, provided by Gale Health and Wellness.
While there is a general lack of awareness of the effects the weather has on the spirit and what helps quell them, it’s completely normal to experience the blues during the fall and winter months. Symptoms of SAD include weight gain; loneliness; and a loss of confidence, motivation, and energy. If you have a family history of seasonal depression, it could be a genetic and clinical problem as well.
Many seek an instant mood booster and self-medicate for temporary relief. Unfortunately, this can be in the form of relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as using alcohol or drugs to numb emotional pain. Avoid seeking empty comfort in these harmful substances. Alcohol is a depressant; and while some drugs may give you an initial high, the low point that will inevitably follow will only make you feel worse.
Instead, opt for light therapy. According to Health Communities, light therapy mimics sunlight in the form of many devices “from battery-powered visors, portable light boxes and special light bulbs, to dawn simulators (lamps that switch on before dawn and gradually light your room, like the sun rising).” This is most effective during the morning when the body is waking up and the internal clock is off. You can make your house brighter by opening up the blinds or curtains and letting in natural light. You can also benefit from natural sunlight in the same way by sitting near a window while you work or relax, or by taking a walk outside in nature, which offers its own mood-lifting properties.
In addition to soaking up rays, go out of your way to find reasons to leave the house. It’s helpful to talk to friends, family members, a therapist, or support group, and be outside even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. Think about getting out and helping others by volunteering at your local charity to give yourself a sense of purpose and value.
You can also make plans in order to give yourself something to look forward to and put what you’re currently feeling into perspective. For example, nothing brightens a day like the thought of an upcoming vacation, and as a bonus, spending some time away offers its own set of perks.
Essential oils and aromatherapy are also great natural remedies, while journaling any negative thoughts you have allows you to get them out of your system. Either way, stick to your normal routine and get plenty of rest and exercise and consume a healthy diet. Take any medications as prescribed and continue to put effort into how you look, even if you don’t feel like it—the better you look, the better you’ll feel. Lastly, embrace the cold weather by engaging in winter-themed hobbies such as arts and crafts projects, ice skating, and sledding.
Talk to your doctor if you think you might be suffering from this form of depression. Remember to be proactive during the fall and winter months about making your self-care a priority. It is worth the time to maintain a healthy outlook and lifestyle.
For more seasonal affective disorder support, dive into Gale Health and Wellness.
For More Resources:
“9 Ways to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder,” Daily Burn.
Seasonal Sadness: Why You’re More Likely to Feel Low at This Time of Year,” News Corp Australia.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms,” Verywell Mind.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Addiction,” The Aviary Recovery Center.
“Your Brain on Alcohol: Is the Conventional Wisdom Wrong about Booze?” Psychology Today.
“7 Tips & Home Remedies for Coping with SAD,” HealthCommunities.com.
“Boost Your Mood & Energy: Why Shorter Days and Longer Nights Mean More Bad Moods and Less Energy,” Plexus.
“8 Long-Term Health Benefits of Volunteering,” Nonprofit Hub.
“How Vacations Improve Your Mental Wellbeing,” Ski Peak blog.
“12 Ways to Ease Seasonal Depression,” Everyday Health.
“Easing SAD Effects with Exercise,” Allina Health.