As the dreaded Winter Term rolls in with cold, rainy and dreary weather, seasonal affective disorder, most commonly known as seasonal depression, can hit HARD. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during certain seasons, with fall and winter being most common due to shorter, darker and chillier days. Symptoms can include anything ranging from excessive fatigue, chronic low moods, strong cravings for carbohydrates and more. These symptoms may lead people to become unproductive or not have an urge to go out and participate in normal social activities. Although it may sound minor, seasonal depression can be very dangerous when it jeopardizes both your physical and mental health. In addition, young adults are more likely to experience SAD compared to elders. Even if it hasn’t happened to you before, being in a new setting such as college can affect your mood tremendously. However, seasonal depression isn’t inevitable and there are ways to prevent or help cope with SAD. If the rain, cold or dark is continually making you feel down, consider these recommendations to say good-bye to the winter blues.
Look Towards the Light
One of the main reasons why SAD occurs is due to the lack of exposure to natural light. Due to this, our bodies are not receiving a sufficient amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important in maintaining immune health, bone health and sufficient amounts of calcium and phosphate concentrations. To avoid a depletion of Vitamin D, try light therapy. Also known as “phototherapy,” light therapy can help you receive a healthy dose of Vitamin D. You can purchase natural light therapy lamps to turn on when you’re feeling off.
Happy Natural Light, $32.99 from Amazon
Achieve the goals you’ve always wanted to accomplish
When the weather is bad, we tend to lose motivation in life and want to just stay inside or in bed all day. However, at times when there isn’t a lot going on outside, you may find that you have more free time. Instead of using this time to curl up on the couch, start planning out what you can do to get to where you want to be or what you want to do. Remember that no step is too small if it’s in the right direction. Try getting a new planner, write your goals on a sticky note and tape it to your mirror or hand up a calendar and create small goals to complete by certain days.
Staying active doesn’t mean you have to be run, bike or walk in the freezing weather or pouring rain. Staying active can be as simple as dancing in your room, cleaning around the house or walking up and down the stairs. If you want to get moving outside your house, consider buying a gym membership, trying a group fitness class, playing pick up basketball or even just running errands like grocery shopping.
Eat the right foods
Although popcorn, candy and ice cream are great movie additions, they may not be the best go-to meals or snacks. In the winter are bodies are Vitamin D deficient causing our immune systems to be more susceptible to illnesses. Therefore, eating well is so important. Research says that people who experience SAD are more likely to strongly crave high-carbohydrate foods. Try choosing foods that are higher in Vitamin D, protein and omega-3 such as eggs, salmon, chia seeds, flaxseeds and soybean. As always, make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet, because these foods can boost happiness quicker.
Pick up a new hobby
Along with staying active, staying busy with other activities can help block out sadness induced by the weather. Considering activities such as writing in a journal, trying a new instrument, drawing or painting or cooking. Not only can these be enjoyable, they can relieve anxiety and be very rewarding. Sometimes people feel like their lives are too busy to pick up another hobby however try dedicating a small amount of time to it each day and watch yourself grow in this!
Let’s face it, even if you are a winter-lover, it’s not always hunky-dory. However, seasonal depression doesn’t have to be another ticking time-bomb that you are waiting to explode as soon as the temperature drops. It might not feel drastic but, if you start to feel your mental health spinning out of control, consider trying some of these solutions. Unfortunately, there are many external factors in life that we can’t control. However, we don’t need to let these affect our happiness. Grab an umbrella, an extra coffee, a thick hoodie and a puffy jacket and tell the nasty weather you will not be bothered!