Winter tends to get the better of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affecting about half a million people in the U.S. alone, with between 10-20 percent of U.S. adults experiencing some form of the winter blues.
SAD occurs when people experience a mood shift during the winter and rainy seasons. There is less sunlight during the winter months, and people spend more time indoors in effort to avoid the bitter cold. SAD is more prevalent the farther north you go, particularly in places in the far north such as Alaska where the sun disappears almost entirely at certain times of the year.
For areas that regularly receive a lot of rain, SAD can be a year-round reality for their residents. Fortunately, if you suffer from SAD, there are ways you can make the winter or rainy seasons easier. Here are a few tips for living with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Artificial Sunlight is More Affordable than You May Think
Lamps that emit artificial sunlight, providing you with your daily dose of vitamin D, can be acquired at your local home improvement store. The small, portable ones can be very affordable and are a wonderful way to battle the effects of SAD. Simply turn the light on and set it up to shine on you as you work, watch TV, or even as you cook.
Vitamin D Supplements are an Option
If you’re too busy to sit beside a sun lamp, you may want to consider taking vitamin D supplements. Including a supplement in your daily routine can be a little easier than making sure to spend enough time in front of a lamp. Of course, they can also be more expensive in the long run and may not be the best option for those in rainy or cloudy regions.
Incorporate More Exercise, Indoors or Out
Exercising is one of the best ways to boost your mood regardless of the reason behind your symptoms. It can be more challenging to find ways to exercise when it’s cold or rainy outside, as it so often is when SAD strikes, particularly if you’re typically a jogger or swimmer during the warmer seasons. However, there are plenty of indoor activities you can be doing to get moving.
Yoga, movie workouts, and YouTube exercise videos are all excellent options for a living room workout. Of course, it is also a good idea to get outside and try to spend a little time in the sun when possible.
Some people dismiss aromatherapy as baseless, but in reality, your olfactory system can seriously impact your mind. Certain scents are able to boost mood and positively affect the parts of the brain involved with SAD. Aromatherapy can be used in the form of oils, mists, pouches, and even dryer sachets. There are many ways to fill your space with beneficial scents.
Lavender is one of the most widely used aromatherapy scents and essential oils, believed to be beneficial for promoting relaxation and providing a calming effect, but citrus has also been found to be effective against depression. Try misting your pillow before bed or rubbing the oils into your temples. Essential oil diffusers are also a great way to infuse your home with soothing smells.
Spend Time with a Four-legged Friend
There are many ways you can battle the effects of SAD and improve your quality of life. One of them just happens to be curling up with a furry pal. Dogs are natural mood boosters, and they also have positive effects on our physical health. If you don’t have a dog of your own and you fear your SAD could turn into more long-term depression, you might want to consider getting a service dog. Today, in addition to helping the visually impaired, service dogs are being trained to provide support to those with mental health disorders.
Coping with SAD can make the thought of winter or the rainy season unbearable. But rest assured, whether it’s a lamp for light therapy or a lavender mist, there is something out there that can help you feel better.
Jennifer Scott is an advocate for opening up about mental health. She shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.
Yours in Health,