6 Tips to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

by: Kit Muellner, Owner and Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch

If you feel the blues during winter months, you are not alone. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an actual type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Symptoms and feelings may start in the fall and continue into the cold and light deprived winter months, causing sufferers to feel sluggish, moody and sad.

Don’t write these feelings off. This seasonal funk is treatable with light therapy, psychotherapy, and medications. Or sometimes, a few adjustments in your activities can do the trick.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of Fall and Winter SAD may include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

If these symptoms sound familiar to you on a mild scale you can try some adjustments on your own!

6 Do-It-Yourself Remedies to Combat Mild Seasonal Affective Disorder

#1  Aromatherapy
Essential oils can connect with the area of the brain that controls mood, sleep, and appetite. Add a few drops of essential oils to your bath at night to help you relax before bedtime.

#2  Add Exercise
Exercise helps in a number of ways. A workout will get that sluggish feeling out of your limbs and stimulate those feel-good endorphins. Having a planned exercise routine also gets you out and moving and often lends to socialization. Not to mention, you are going to feel great about yourself!

#3  Get Out In the Sunshine
It may seem daunting, especially when it’s cold, but take the time to bundle up and get out during the light of day. It’s exercise, and you receive natural light therapy at the same time.

#4  Go On Vacation
This is always a good idea. Depending on where you go you may experience more warmth and sunshine. The mere fact of looking forward to vacation weeks in advance can greatly elevate your mood.

#5  Keep a Journal
There’s something magical about getting the thoughts out of your head and down on paper. It’s a way of releasing your thoughts and feelings. Don’t worry about being grammatically correct or having perfect penmanship. In fact, you don’t even have to read what you wrote. Journaling can be very therapeutic, in all seasons. In addition to writing or typing a journal, you may want to journal using art or drawings-and you don’t have to be an artist to use this method.

#6  Make Sure You Get Vitamin D
You may want to talk to your doctor about getting your levels of Vitamin D checked. Low levels of Vitamin D are sometimes associated with feelings of depression. Some studies have shown that Vitamin D supplements have done wonders for elevating mood and alleviating depression.

What if (SAD) Becomes Severe?

We all have days in the winter when we feel sluggish and lack energy. If your symptoms are mild, put the above tips to the test. However, if your symptoms are severe and disrupting your life; long bouts of depression, extreme sadness or using alcohol to manage your moods, then it’s time to contact a professional. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact health professionals immediately.