This year has been filled with challenges. From a pandemic to economic ordeals and even an exhausting election, there have been plenty of reasons to struggle with maintaining positivity. With so much already going on, the last thing that you want is for the cold weather and shorter days to naturally pile onto the pessimism.
If you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) here are a few healthy ways that you can naturally manage the annual cycle of depression to keep your mind bright and your heart happy in the weeks and months ahead.
Before diving into some of the coping mechanisms, it’s worth briefly reviewing what SAD is in the first place. Depression is, at all times, tricky to diagnose. SAD tends to work on a 365-day timer, which makes it a little bit easier to recognize.
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year. Typically this is in the winter, although it can often begin earlier in the autumn as well. SAD only tends to affect roughly 1-2% of the population, whereas a milder form of the condition (commonly referred to as the “winter blues”) can impact as much as one out of every five individuals.
Seasonal depression can manifest through a variety of different symptoms, including your sleep, mood, appetite, and your overall energy levels. It can lead to a sense of hopelessness, tension, and even stress and can wreak havoc on your relationships, work, and school.
Coping with SAD
If you believe you struggle with SAD (or even the winter blues), you’re not alone. Here are several ways that you can address the issue in a gentle, natural manner that focuses on maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle that cares for your body, mind, and emotions.
Maintaining your physical health provides a solid foundation as you fight to keep your mental health strong as well. Physical health starts with healthy eating habits. Everything from your heart and lungs to your muscles, skin, and veins require quality nutrients to function properly.
Start by reviewing your diet. Make sure that you’re making healthy and balanced food choices that emphasize fruits and veggies, whole grains, and milk products. Don’t forget reasonable quantities of poultry, fish, other lean meats as well as beans, eggs, and nuts. Track your calories if necessary and minimize your saturated and trans fats as well as your salt, added sugars, and cholesterol.
In addition to a balanced diet, consider trying CBD oil or a moderate-acting kratom supplement to help restore a sense of calm and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Try to Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is essential to overcoming depression. You should typically aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Of course, it’s difficult to do this when you’re feeling depressed and anxious.
If that’s the case, take steps to address your sleep hygiene. In other words, don’t just aim for a large quantity of sleep. Address the quality of your sleep, too. This looks different for each person, but common sleep hygiene activities include:
- Avoiding electronics an hour or two before bed.
- Maintaining a sleep schedule.
- Hanging blackout curtains in your bedroom.
- Keeping your bedroom decluttered and clean.
- Dedicating your bedroom as a sleep-only space.
Exercise Every Day
Exercise is another essential SAD management technique. By exercising regularly, you can combat stress and anxiety, two common symptoms of depression.
Exercise naturally pumps up your endorphins. Additionally, if you can exercise outdoors, time regularly spent in Mother Nature can naturally lower your risk of depression and anxiety.
Try Light Therapy
One of the best ways to address seasonal affective disorder is with light therapy. Research indicates that by getting a lightbox and using it once or twice a day, you can create chemical changes in your brain that naturally improve your mood.
Using a light therapy box is an excellent way to gently combat the depression that comes with shorter daylight each autumn and winter.
Finally, you can combat the nefariously negative thought processes that come with seasonal depression by striving to maintain a positive perspective. This is a great way to survive everything from anxiety with work to school and holiday stress.
Focusing on thankfulness and practicing gratitude are great ways to keep your life in perspective. It can help you identify negative thought patterns and mitigate them with truthful thoughts rooted in your genuine circumstances.
Managing SAD in a Healthy Manner
Seasonal affective disorder comes and goes. This can make it easy to overlook. However, there’s no reason that you should have to bow to the pressures of depression, anxiety, and stress every time the temperature drops or the snow begins to fall. By utilizing the suggestions above, you can face your SAD symptoms head-on and ensure that you remain upbeat and positive no matter how short the days or cold the weather.
The Carousel would like to thank Beau Peters for his article.