Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that can affect people during the winter. Its symptoms include a loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, or withdrawal from social time with friends and family. Attributed to a decreased exposure to natural light, SAD can negatively impact your life and make an already-cold time of year more difficult to get through. Thankfully, there are several options when it comes to navigating the winter blues. Read on for tips that can help you get back to productivity and positivity.
Although the winter months mean the holidays and fun activities like ice skating and sledding, the decrease in temperature can make people less than cheerful. It may seem difficult to stay warm without wildly inflating your heating bill, but it is possible with the simple addition of space heaters. The cold can be insidious, seeming to eke its way into your bones. If you can stay warm, you will likely be happier and more motivated to do things around your home rather than grousing, huddling under a blanket, and wishing spring would hurry up and arrive. Let warmth beget comfort and happiness.
A viable option when treating SAD, light therapy involves exposure to artificial light, most often from a light box. As the sun’s rays help your body produce Vitamin D, it’s possible that SAD may be a result of a deficiency. You can find your way out of the blues by sitting in front of a light box for as little as half an hour each day, as well as taking an over-the-counter Vitamin D supplement. As with any medicinal therapy, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to make sure this is the right approach for issues you are facing.
Though it may seem to contradict the advice to stay warm, stepping outside for a brief meditation during the daytime is another treatment option for SAD. As you center your thoughts, let your mind drift to a place that is full of sunshine and light and warmth. Rather than letting your mind run wild with thoughts about winter or the fact that you’re probably chilly, incorporate these thoughts into your time outdoors. While you’re probably not going to head outside during a blizzard or when the temperature is dangerously low, a short session (10 minutes or so) can jumpstart your practice and teach you how to meditate anywhere and at any time. Embrace the change in temperature and how it affects your body. Consider sitting on a yoga mat on the ground to better connect with the earth. Inhale deeply. Let the fresh air clear your mind. Re-enter your home refreshed and ready for cocoa.
It’s important to keep in mind that a case of the blues can be symptomatic of a more serious depression that needs to be discussed with your doctor. Try some of the aforementioned tips, noting what works for you. Above all, be kind to yourself and let your body acclimate to the wintertime. If low feelings persist despite your self-care measures, be sure to speak with a medical professional who can help you find your way back to happiness.
Danielle, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys hiking and meditating daily to keep centered. Read her work at Dose of My Own.