Have you ever felt down during the winter months, when days are shorter and you’re inside more? You may have felt symptoms of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression that hits when days become shorter. In some it may be no more than a slight case of wintertime blues. But some people may find SAD to be severe and very debilitating – affecting their quality of life. Symptoms of SAD include changes to sleeping patters, craving carbohydrates, avoiding social interactions, and other symptoms that often occur with depression.
Because SAD can be severe, you should consult your doctor if you feel you are being exceptionally influenced by the change in season. If you’ve never experienced these winter time blues before, you would want to rule out any other underlying cause.
Although a doctor may offer suggestions for treatment, including therapy and or medication depending on the severity, there are many different methods you can use to more naturally relieve the symptoms of SAD.
1. Light Therapy
With daylight saving’s time ending, the sun rises earlier and sets earlier in the day, and this may be a primary cause of SAD. You can try to avoid this by spending time outdoors, yes, even in the cold. Another option would be to get a light or lamp that reproduces sunlight. This would stimulate the biochemical activity in your brain that helps regulate a variety of systems.
Another option would be to try using a dawn simulator alarm clock. These clocks simulate a sunrise that’s timed to your wake-up time. This will help you wake up easily and feel more alert.
Aromatherapy can be beneficial for SAD-sufferers, as they provide soothing scents that can ease anxiety or uplift your mood. The wonderful smells can also add an element of freshness that’s often missing from rooms that are closed up for the winter.
Adding scents to a bath can be a great way to experience aromatherapy as well. For an extra pick me up during the day, add a touch of oil to a small cloth or handkerchief you can pull out of your bag or pocket if you feel yourself getting a little down. Be sure to experiment with oils and combinations to find the right scents for you. Above all, the scents should be pleasing to your nose.
3. Water Fountains
Water fountains have many benefits, and some of them may help to alleviate SAD when it strikes. You can choose from wall fountains, floor fountains, or tabletop fountains depending on the space you have in your home. The white noise of the running water provides an excellent soothing background noise that can help relieve anxiety or help you fall asleep.
Water fountains can also add some humidity to the air inside a building – air that may dry out too much during winter heating, contributing to feelings of anxiousness and irritability. Fountains also counter the negative ions that collect indoors. They act as natural ionic air purifiers, helping you stay happy and healthy.
If you have an indoor water fountain, consider getting some indoor plants that will stay green through the winter season to set next to the water fountain. The plants can provide that extra bit of life that your room needs during winter, as well as making a great accent or centerpiece decoration.
One of the many symptoms of SAD is lethargy. You just don’t feel like doing anything and you spend your time sitting around. These feelings are due to a lack of serotonin in the brain, which can be naturally increased by physical activity. Exercise does more than just helping you become fit; it can actually improve your mood and help you fight SAD. Exercise will also help you relax and take your mind off issues which may also stress you out. Fighting stress during the winter months is important. SAD can affect your ability to handle stress well.
If you also feel hopeless due to SAD, exercise can give you some goals and a great sense of accomplishment. Make exercising part of your daily and weekly routine. Joining a gym or taking classes will help you get out among people, reducing the isolation or avoidance of social activities that SAD produces. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day, and see how it may help you.
5. Have Fun!
SAD can have a real impact on your life, especially if it severely affects you every year. All of these suggestions, from light therapy to water fountains to exercise can help you lessen or prevent the symptoms of SAD. If you find yourself retreating during these months, try to concentrate on the activities that are fun for you and help you defeat the negative thoughts and feelings. Being with friends and family, seeing a movie or accomplishing a goal can go a long way. SAD doesn’t have to make you sad if you know what you’re facing and know how to get around it.