Turning back the clock to implement daylight saving time sounds good on paper. Who doesn’t want an extra hour of sleep?
But, when the reality of cold temperatures and shorter days starts to set in, it can leave you feeling depressed. But some people have more than just the winter blues. They may have seasonal affective disorder, also called SAD. AND investigation shows that time change can worsen SAD symptoms.
SAD is a type of depression that occurs at certain times of the year, usually in winter. The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are similar to other types of depression: hopelessness, less energy, irritability, slowness, and loss of interest in what once made you happy. It may increase your appetite (causing weight gain) and make you sleep more.
More people assigned female at birth experience SAD compared to people assigned male at birth. But the advantage is that you can take steps to help treat SAD. First, talk to your healthcare provider (HCP) about your symptoms. And the following lifestyle changes can help, too.
Self-Care Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder
1. Keep a diary
Recording what’s going on in your head can help you release negativity from your system. When you write, do it at night. That way you can reflect on the day. Write down your feelings, thoughts and concerns.
Read: 7 healthy habits to improve your body and mind >>
2. Get moving
Exercise helps improve your physical health and reduces the risk of disease. It has also been shown to improve mood. Plus, you’ll pump extra oxygen to your brain, which can help you feel more alert.
3. Stick to a schedule
Maintaining a regular schedule improves sleep by exposing you to light consistently and at predictable times. And that can help relieve SAD symptoms. Eating regularly can also help you eat healthily and avoid the weight gain that many people with SAD experience in the winter.
Read: Sleep Hygiene Checklist: Top 8 Healthy Sleep Habits >>
4. Add aromatherapy to your life
Put a few drops of essential oils in your nighttime bath to promote sleep and relaxation. Studies show that lavender and chamomile essential oils can reduce depression levels in older adults.
Stop making excuses not to leave the house. Yes, it’s cold outside. So, grab that sweater and get out there. Accept that lunch date invitation. Take the family to see a movie. Both indoor and outdoor activities can have a positive effect on your mood.
6. Head outdoors
Take advantage of the sunlight and go out whenever you can during the day. Bundle up and take a walk. Or just go outside for a few minutes and breathe the air. When you’re indoors, let in natural light by keeping the blinds open.
7. Visit a warmer climate
People who post selfies during their winter beach vacation are on to something. Traveling in winter to a warmer climate allows you to escape the snow, wind and cold and enjoy some vitamin Dwhich is sometimes used in combination with other treatments to treat SAD.
Read: 9 things you need to know about vitamin D >>
It’s hard not to feel good when you’re lending a hand. Look for volunteer opportunities where you can make a difference. Donate to a toy drive. Serve a meal at a soup kitchen. Buy gifts for a family in need. your mood will probably improve while doing something altruistic.
9. Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Phototherapy tricks your body into believing that the days are brighter and longer than they really are. Most people sit in front of a light therapy box for a set amount of time each day. Talk to your doctor to see if this treatment is right for you.
10. Eat well
When you have SAD, you may crave sugary, high-carbohydrate foods. Beat SAD by eating foods that improve mood such as fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains to combat inflammation and reduce the risk of depression.
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