Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of mental illness that occurs during the winter months. As days get shorter and the weather gets colder, people spend more time inside and in the dark compared to the warmer, longer summer days. SAD can cause you to see a decline in quality sleep, mood, energy, and mental health. Below are a few tips you can use to deal with this disorder.
One of the main causes of SAD is simply not getting enough sunlight, which contains nutrients such as vitamin D that can have an impact on our mood. The best way to limit the effects of SAD is to get as much sunlight as you can. There are two ways to do this.
The first is natural sunlight. Even though the weather is cold, you can try to get outside on walks during nicer days so you still get some sunlight. When you are indoors, you can also sit by windows so the sunlight still is directly on you.
The second is artificial sunlight. You can get special light bulbs and light machines that produce light that is as similar to real sunlight as possible. They aren’t perfect, but you can keep them by your desk or wherever you spend a lot of time during the day, to make up for it in quantity.
One of the best ways to improve mental health in general is to get regular exercise. Physical activity helps in a few ways. It causes your brain to release chemicals called endorphins, which are known for their ability to create a feeling of happiness and euphoria. The effects fade over time, but if you are exercising regularly then you will have a steady stream of endorphins to counteract the depression, stress and anxiety that can come from SAD.
It also helps in indirect ways. It improves your appetite, your ability to sleep, and your self-confidence. It also reduces or prevents health issues so you feel more calm, content and in a good physical state instead of adding additional stress on your mind.
There are a variety of supplements you can take to help your body replace what it loses by staying inside and living more in the dark due to shorter winter days. Vitamin D is one, which is a nutrient carried by sunlight that your skin absorbs. Your body also tends to lose out on natural melatonin production, which can affect your ability to sleep. You can also take supplements known to help your mental health directly, such as cannabidiol from Joy Organics, omega fatty acids, vitamin B, zinc, and magnesium.
If you don’t like taking supplements, you can also improve your mental and overall health by modifying your regular diet. You don’t have to make dramatic changes, just some small tweaks to eat healthier alternatives that you are more likely to crave in the winter. Typically, darker and colder seasons lead to people having a desire for sugar, simple carbs, and high-calorie comfort or junk food.
Instead, you can have hot oatmeal, use whole grain bread instead of white bread, and bananas that help develop more serotonin to improve your mood. There are other foods that are a strong source of omega fatty acids, vitamin D, and more. Fish, nuts, soy, and seeds are all excellent sources.
If your SAD is affecting you more severely, you can also seek therapy. They can help teach you the mental techniques to cope with mental health issues and healthy coping mechanisms. They may also prescribe you with medication that provides you with a boost to the chemicals in your brain that your body lacks in the winter.