How to “hack” seasonal affective disorder

How to “hack” seasonal affective disorder

No matter how quietly the changing of seasons comes, we all feel the consequences of dark winter months. As the weather shifts, our mindset and feelings may as well. And when the holiday parties are over and new year socializing subsides, many find themselves dealing with winter blues.

For some, this can morph into full blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is something that happens to many around this time of year. Symptoms may vary from one person to the next, but typically they are identifiable due to moodiness and low levels of energy. Even though symptoms disappear during the warmer months, SAD can be an issue for almost half of the year in many parts of the world.

Today we're taking a deeper look into SAD and exploring ways to reduce the symptoms.

How to recognize SAD

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, about 4 to 6 percent of the American population suffers from SAD every year. If you start becoming moody, have some disruptions in your sleeping pattern, feel tired constantly, and your energy levels are low during the winter months – you are most likely dealing with it. You may even notice some changes in your eating patterns, a slight weight gain, or losing interest in activities you previously enjoyed.

Tips for improving symptoms

Once you decide to address those pesky winter blues, consider the following "hacks". Give them a try to see where you notice the largest improvement, and work these habits into your routine until the sun starts shining again (literally and figuratively!) 

  • Taking supplements – Vitamins and minerals should be an essential part of your diet, especially during the winter months. Ones that may impact sleep and mood include Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Melatonin, and B vitamins. Remember to take your preferred supplements daily and help your body create a better sleeping pattern. Speak with a naturopath or your doctor for recommendations specific to you.
  • Waking up with light – since winter months mean a reduction in the hours of natural light exposure, try to get it as much as possible when you can! To beat the winter blues, find a source of natural light by stepping outside or standing near a window for 5-10 minutes after you first wake up. Then, let your body settle into the day the natural way.
  • Nature and fresh air – one of the best ways to fight off the seasonal depression is by getting out and soaking up nature. No matter the season, nature is always the perfect "hack" to turn to if you want to give yourself a little bit of peace and have a clearer mind.
  • Sleeping well – first thing's first, when it comes to getting a good sleep - make sure to create a serene environment to help your body prepare for rest. Keep your room relaxing and dark and at a cooler temperature. In addition, try to go to bed and wake up at a consistent time, be mindful of what you eat before sleep (avoid large meals, alcohol, and caffeine), reduce daytime naps, and remove all electronic distractions like your TV or phone.
  • Therapeutic light – Also known as phototherapy boxes, these devices create artificial light that mimics sunshine. This is one of the best ways to boost your body and combat any SAD symptoms when daylight is just too hard to find.

It is okay to be sad sometimes, but if you start feeling seasonal affective disorder  creep up on you, then it's time to take action! We hope these tips help hack your way out of the negative feelings you might encounter during the winter months.

And please remember, it's important to speak with your healthcare professional and seek support whenever you're feeling symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other challenges impacting your mental health.

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As always, we at Loba share information for entertainment and educational purposes only. We are not medical practitioners. Please be sure to consult a physician and/or a naturopath for professional advice.

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