Anyone who has experienced seasonal affective disorder, better known as SAD, understands the hardship it can inflict. This disorder is a type of depressive state that can be trigger by the low temperatures and reduced sunlight of the fall and winter months.
While suffering from the condition, individuals can experience a range of limiting symptoms, including moodiness, a lack of energy, and a general lethargy that can even turn dangerous.
Some people are more affected by seasonal affective disorder than others. While one person might not bad an eye at the gray skies, frigid air and reduced hours of sunlight, the conditions can create a legitimately dangerous situation for others.
This mental health condition needs to be proactively addressed to improve the condition of anyone with SAD — not just to avoid dangerous depressive episodes, but to also get more enjoyment out of the colder, darker phase of the calendar year. Here are some tips to help you survive and thrive.
The primary effects of seasonal affective disorder are a lack of light contacting the skin. Natural sunlight is very important to a person’s health — light stimulates the brain, delivers vitamin D and can help raise serotonin levels, which directly affect mood and happiness.
Whenever possible, you should try to get outside and expose your skin to the natural light — this is the best way to combat SAD.
But when natural light isn’t accessible, artificial light therapy can be a big lift. Invest in a light therapy box, which will provide some of the same benefits and improve your mood when the outdoors remain inaccessible.
Avoiding the cold will also have a big impact on your mood and energy levels. Invest in warm winter clothing to keep your body nice and toasty both indoors and outside.
You should also make sure the heaters in your home are properly functioning and regulating the temperature well. If the furnace or other devices seem to be struggling to keep up with demand, you can always bring in a portable unit to deliver some extra heat support.
Outdoor meditation and other activities
You can spend time outdoors — or even indoors but in direct sunlight — in different ways to combat your SAD. While exposure to natural light is ideal, the exercise you enjoy by going for a walk or enjoying other workout routines will boost serotonin levels, thus increasing your mood and energy.
If it’s warm enough, you can always try meditating outdoors — the meditative process can be calming and pleasing, and it lets you soak up some of the sunlight penetrating those overcast skies.
If it’s too cold you can always meditate by a glass door or window with great light exposure. And don’t forget about other activities that you can do in the light, such as reading a book or playing with your kids.
Coping skills are an essential part of living with seasonal affective disorder — and especially if you want to control your condition without medication.
Ultimately, you should never avoid possible treatments if such refusal creates a safety risk for yourself. Understand that SAD can be a complex and harmful condition if you ignore it or fail to properly address it, and take action now to get more enjoyment out of your days and always discuss any treatment, natural or otherwise with a qualified health professional.
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