This winter, follow these tips to avoid SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is no joke, especially to those of us who live in the North. Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), is also known as winter depression. It is characterized by a lack of energy, depression, lost of interest, sleeping issues, and changes in appetite or weight gain as a result of the changing seasons.
SAD can be caused by changes in your circadian rhythms (the lack of sunlight during winter months), lowered serotonin levels (also as a result of lack of sunlight), and a disruption in melatonin, which is the chemical that helps us sleep and maintain our moods.
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About five percent of Americans suffer from SAD every year, and four out of five of them are women.
So it is nothing to be ashamed of, but if you want to avoid seasonal depression this winter, try a few of these tips:
Let in as much sun as possible. Sleep with your blinds and curtains open, and if there are any trees blocking your sunlight, prune them before the weather gets really bad. Lack of sunlight is a huge contributor to SAD, so get as much Vitamin D as you possibly can.
Follow a strict sleep routine. Nothing can disrupt a solid sleep routine like depression. Instead of indulging yourself and binge-watching Netflix though, force yourself to maintain your circadian rhythm by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. It will do wonders for both your energy and mood.
Go outside as much as possible. I know the weather is cold, but even a brisk, 20-minute walk during the winter months can greatly elevate your mood.
Get on a solid, regular gym regimen. We all like to hibernate a little during winter, but nothing short of anti-depressants will elevate your mood more effectively than a solid gym regimen. Even on days you aren’t feeling it, if you think of the gym the way you think of medicine you stand a much better chance of avoiding the SAD.
Meditate regularly. Being mindful of your own mental health is super important during the winter months, and meditating is the best way to get in touch with that part of yourself. If you find yourself angry or sad for no reason, consider meditating. Even 10 minutes can bring you a lot of clarity and help stave off feelings of depression.
Take a trip. If all else fails, go somewhere warm during the winter. In fact, I would suggest you try and take one warm trip every winter. It will snap you right out of your sad feelings, and remind you that warmer days are to come.