How I Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder
As the days slowly start to get shorter and the weather colder, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) becomes a reality for many of us. I suffered with it for years not knowing what it was. In 2016 it was particularly bad because it was coupled with depression. So sad on top of SAD. All kidding aside, it was a rough time for me and it made me want to be proactive in dealing with it before it starts. I try to spend the early part of Fall preparing my body - and mind- to deal with it. Last year was a particularly rough time for me personally with family health issues which caused a massive amount of stress. BUT - my SAD wasn’t actually all that bad. And I think it is because I tweaked a few things here and there to help me with it.
Vitamin D supplements
This isn’t for everyone, but my Doctor prescribed them for my vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to fatigue, depression, and SAD. If you suffer from SAD or depression ask your DR to check your vitamin D levels. Lack of sunlight can affect vitamin d levels and African-Americans and those with deeper skin tones are more likely to suffer from it since sun doesn’t penetrate our skin as quickly as it does those without melanin. I started taking my vitamin D supplements again a few weeks ago to prepare my body.
I know, I know…this one kind of blows. BUT - it works. I actually enjoy being a bit more active during the winter months as opposed to the hot summer months. The endorphins from exercise are a great combatant against SAD and depression. It doesn’t have to be anything hardcore. 20-30 minutes of physical activity will work. Whether that be a long walk or a quick workout at the gym.
Lack of sleep is the catalyst for a multitude of health issues. Including mental health. Specifically forms of depression. I find that if I get a good eight hours sleep every night my mind is sharper and I have more energy. Couple this with exercise and it’s a great one two SAD punch.
4. Create a happy space
And that can mean different things for different people. For me coziness during the winter makes me happy. I create my happy space with the colors, textures, and scents I surround myself with. This year, I want to focus on incorporating more plants into my life. Not only are they beautiful but they are also great natural air purifiers. Being around greenery and nature is a nature mood lifter. I also plan on keeping my richer colors in my bedroom. I redecorated my room in Spring and I find the colors to be quite uplifting. Now don’t hold me to this because I have a tendency to want to redecorate my entire room with a new season. Invest in scented candles, oil diffusers with scents that feel calming or uplifting to you. I tend to love citrusy and woodsy scents like sandalwood and bergamot.
5. Let in the light
As I stated above about Vitamin d, sunlight plays a HUGE role in SAD. I live in an apartment that doesn’t get a ton of natural light and so I have to make a point of seeking it out when I can. Taking a walk for 20-30 minutes helps with this.. This is something I tried to do more of last year. Sometimes simply being outside and breathing in fresh air can work wonders. If this isn’t possible investing in a Light Therapy Lamp can help as well I have put off doing this myself but I think I will take the plunge and invest in one this year.
I’ve mentioned this time and again but I will say it again because it’s important. Having someone to talk to is ALWAYS a good thing. And therapy doesn’t have to mean going to an office and sitting across from someone you don’t know. Be honest with a close friend. Explain that you have down days and that you may want to call them from time to time to talk. A good friend will understand and be there for you.
If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder leave a few tips in the comments and let us know how you deal with it during the fall and winter months.