What is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can affect anyone. Although most commonly associated with the winter season, SAD can also occur in the spring and summer.
Each year, between one and three percent of the population will feel the effects of SAD. This disorder is not the same as feeling blue or sad; rather, it is a clinical depression directly related to changes in the seasons. It can be especially hard for people who are already living with depression or bipolar disorder.
Typical symptoms of SAD in the fall and winter are tiredness and low energy, oversleeping, changes in appetite, cravings for carbohydrates, and weight gain.
If you’re feeling a bit down as the days become shorter, there are ways to keep SAD at bay. Emerge2 encourages you to make the following few simple changes to your home and lifestyle, and you’ll be able to cope with SAD this winter.
As the long bright days of summer fade away in the fall, depression can be triggered. Lighting is an easy way to prevent the dull days and darker evenings from affecting your mood.
Invest in full-spectrum lights throughout your home to get the same type of light you get from the sun. These energy-efficient lights will give you an overall better feeling.
You may also find relief by using a light therapy lamp, designed especially for SAD. You’ll need to spend at least 10 minutes in front of your lamp each morning. When looking for a light therapy lamp, consider the light intensity and UV levels, and wear eye protection. It is best to talk to your doctor about safely using a light therapy lamp before buying one.
Let the sun shine in when you have it! Open your blinds and curtains during the day while at home to get the most natural light possible. Cut back shrubbery that may be blocking light from coming into your home.
If possible, sit near a window while working or go outside during the day for a walk to get some fresh air and sunshine. Getting out for a short walk even on a rainy or overcast day will make you feel better.
We all know how much better we feel when our home is clean and neat. Getting rid of stuff that is taking up space in your home will help significantly to reduce depression, and it will also improve your ability to manage time.
Make a plan of which rooms, closets and drawers to tackle first, and set aside time each week.
Donate items that are in good condition so they can be appreciated by someone else. Sell some belongings, and discard things that are no longer usable. The additional openness in your home will give you a huge boost! If needed, build or buy some shelves, and place your belongings in bins and baskets.
Paint is the easiest DIY home improvement when you want a fresh new look. The colors you choose play a big role in how you feel. Darker paint, though dramatic as a focal point, can make rooms feel smaller and gloomier on dull winter days. Maybe it’s time to brighten your rooms with lighter paint colors.
You don’t necessarily need to paint them white — yellow, orange and reds will give your rooms a sunny glow. Of course, painting your walls white is the tried-and-true method of brightening your room and spirits.
A regular bedtime and a cooler room temperature will help you get to sleep, but what you eat and drink before bedtime can also make a difference.
Avoid eating meals too close to bedtime, and eat the right portion size to help you get a restful sleep. Also avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine a few hours before your bedtime.
Are your mattress and pillows comfortable and supportive? Don’t forget warm blankets, blinds or drapes that block out light, and ear plugs or a fan to block out noise.
Put your phone and computer away at least an hour before going to bed and read a book instead to help you doze off.
The color of your bedroom walls will also affect how relaxed you feel. Choose soothing colors of nature ? blues and greens for a calming atmosphere.
Try taking a relaxing bath before bed if you still have trouble sleeping.
A nutritious and balanced diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits will help ward off feelings of depression.
Be creative as you plan meals, purchase fresh produce when possible, and leave the salty and sugary snacks on the store shelf. Encourage your kids to help with meal preparation to give them valuable life-long skills as well as a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Cooking together is a fun and educational activity that can alleviate some of those blue feelings that pop up in the darker winter season.
Start an indoor herb garden this winter with grow lights and brighten your home at the same time. Most herbs need about 12 to 16 hours of light a day, and other house plants will also benefit from this additional light. You’ll enjoy watching your small herb plants flourish, and can add them to your cooking to create flavorful dishes all winter long. The added brightness of grow lights will do double duty – help your plants to be healthy and brighten your spirits.
Set up a space in your home for working out – it doesn’t have to be elaborate! Keep it simple with a yoga mat and a couple of weights. You can add equipment gradually over time for a wider range of exercises.
If you do decide to build a home gym, you’ll find lots of good advice online to create the gym of your dreams in your basement, garage or outside.
Exercising is the perfect mood booster – it releases endorphins and other chemicals that make you feel better.
There are lots of ways to keep active and have fun indoors in the darker, cold winter months. Play a competitive game of darts, foosball or table tennis in your basement. If you don’t have a tennis table, you can purchase a net to stretch across any table.
Invite your neighbors over for a beach party complete with Caribbean music, tropical drinks and appetizers. Bring out the hula hoops, Hawaiian leis, beach balls, board games and charades.
Hit the trails to get some fresh air, fun and sunshine, snowshoeing, skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. Build a backyard ice rink or go skating and play hockey at a local outdoor rink.
Go for a long walk alone or with friends and your dog, or go for a run. Enjoy birdwatching in the woods, and create snow sculptures and ice forts. And there is always snow shoveling for a good workout!
Install a firepit in your backyard to enjoy stargazing and hot cider on a clear cold night.
Socializing with friends and neighbors is a great way to make the winter fun and healthy!
If you have any questions or need more information, visit Emerge2. Our team is always available to help in any way we can.