The Best Tips On Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about five percent of Americans, leaving them with a feeling of sadness during fall and winter months that won’t abate until the weather gets warm again. The symptoms can be intense; feelings of depression, an increased appetite (which can trigger a loss of self esteem), lowered energy, an inability to think clearly or focus, substance abuse, and a major change in sleep habits; yet many people are unaware of just how much people who live with SAD are affected, shrugging it off as “the blues” or something that can be easily overcome.
For most, it’s not the simple. If you suffer from SAD, it’s important to be familiar with some easy tips on how to cope with it during the hardest weeks of the year. Here’s how to get started.
Modify your home
Your home is where you go to feel safe, comfortable, and stress-free, so it’s important to make sure it works in your favor where Seasonal Affective Disorder is concerned. Paint the walls with bright colors, or decorate with colorful artwork. Use sheer curtains or light-filtering mini blinds to allow as much natural light to come in, especially in the most-used living spaces. On sunny days, try to get outside if possible and soak up the vitamin D.
Taking good care of yourself is essential when a disorder makes life harder. Do something that makes you feel good, such as indulging in a pedicure or massage, as often as possible. Eat right–dark, leafy greens, nuts, fish, and berries are a great start–and get in daily exercise. It might help to get up a little earlier than normal to take advantage of all the daylight you can, since the days are shorter in colder months.
Making your health a priority is always important, but never more so than when you suffer from a disorder that can affect your sleeping and eating habits. Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement and make sure you get adequate rest while still leaving several hours in the day to get things done. It’s tempting to go to bed early when it gets dark at six p.m., but that won’t lead to productivity. Build a DIY home gym so you can stay busy, or invest your time in a hobby such as woodworking or crafting.
Spend time with animals
This might seem like an odd way to ward off depression, but animals have actually been proven to significantly benefit our mental health. The unconditional love we get from our pets is especially beneficial. If you have a pet, make a point to spend some extra time playing or cuddling with them when your SAD kicks into high gear. If you don’t have a pet, find other ways to get some quality time with a four-legged friend. For example, you might become a pet sitter or offer to take a friend’s pooch to the dog park.
Even if you’ve never felt particularly creative, it’s a good idea to mine those feelings of sadness for a spark of something else. Write in a journal, paint, sing, or play a musical instrument. Think of what makes you the happiest and give it a try; you never know what might come out. In fact, most types of art expression are a very valid form of expression and are used to help individuals with PTSD, disabilities, and depression all the time.
If none of those sounds appealing, try keeping a journal. Writing down your feelings and thoughts every day can be helpful and will allow you to vent.