Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Strategies for Beating the Winter Blues

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? 

When the sun starts setting at 4 pm, and the heavier jackets get pulled from the back of the closet, do you find yourself mentally feeling a little worse each day? You might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a type of depression brought on by a certain season in the year, usually Fall and Winter, according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  

The condition is often experienced by women more than men, and signs include increased sleep, irritability and anxiety, social withdrawal, feelings of guilt and more. While researchers aren’t sure exactly how it’s caused, lack of sunlight and shorter days are thought to be contributing factors. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated, or at the very least, managed. Check out some tips for dealing with SAD this season. 

Be realistic

Getting past depression is often a long process, and it’s important to set your expectations accordingly. Give yourself some time to take small steps out of the funk, like getting out of the house for an hour each day or choosing a few things you enjoy and working them into your schedule, instead of packing your schedule with activities that you might not feel up to when the day comes. 

Lean on someone

Sharing the burden with someone you trust, like your spouse or a friend or a family member, can lighten some of the pressure that comes with SAD. It can even be as small as a phone call. And if you really feel that nothing is working, consult a therapist or psychologist for help.  

Stay away from the big decisions

SAD and big life decisions definitely don’t mix. Remember, those feelings of guilt or stress or unhappiness may be happening because of the season. So maybe take a beat before deciding to quit your job or file for divorce. 

Eat well & exercise

When suffering from SAD, it’s easy for us to forget about eating well and exercising – who’s going to the gym when getting out of bed is difficult enough? But letting these activities slide can actually hurt and lead you into a deeper depression. 

Find some light (literally) 

Sure, it’s getting colder, but getting a little bundled up and getting out in the sun can do wonders for managing SAD. And if it’s too cold or too gloomy to get sunlight, consider investing in a sun lamp to get that light source inside.

November 2023
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