I’ve mentioned before that I tend to feel a little down and out once the winter weather hits, but lately I’ve been doing a little research in an effort to decide if its a bit more than just the winter blues. I still don’t have a definitive answer one way or another, but I’m treating the malaise I tend to feel this time of year much like someone diagnosed with SAD would. And I have to say, I think I may be on to something! So whether you think you may be affected by seasonal affective disorder or a heavy case of the winter blues, check out a few of these suggestions!
How To Know If You Have SAD
The reality is that nearly 14 million people in the United States alone are impacted by some degree of seasonal affective disorder. And while there is no specific “test” for SAD, there are a few key markers that may indicate you’re dealing with the disorder.
In contrast to other forms of depression, SAD follows a predictable pattern. You likely find yourself beginning to sink into a bit of a funk starting with the shift to Daylight Savings in the late fall/early winter and then begin to rise out of it as spring emerges. The condition also carries some specific “symptoms,” if you will:
- Weight gain
- Poor focus
- Low energy
- Light seeking
It is believed that SAD is caused by changes in one’s circadian rhythm as well as a change in serotonin and melatonin levels – brought on by the change in the seasons.
How To Treat SAD
I want to emphasize here…I don’t want to make light of a clinical diagnosis. If you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, then I highly encourage you to seek out care and support from a qualified professional. But, if you’re like me, and just need a little boost to help you get through the gloom of the winter months and have found self-treatment to be helpful, you could benefit from these suggestions. That said, some of the ways that I’ve found to offset the low energy I feel this time of year include:
1. Turn on some extra lights.
I generally am one to go around turning all of the lights off; however, I’ve recently made an effort to keep our home a little more brightly lit. We generally have a good bit of natural light in our home during the day, but even if it’s just a bit overcast, I’ve been flipping a lamp or two on to give myself just that extra bit of brightness.
2. Keep a good routine.
I often find myself wanting to press the snooze even more often this time of year, but I’ve found that having a good routine and sticking to it makes a big difference. So I have set a routine for waking and going to bed at night (though I’m not always as good at that one as I should be) and have some accountability in place to help me stick with it.
3. Get regular exercise.
Exercise is a big one for me (obviously)! But even beyond just making sure I am exercising, committing to a new program is really motivating and energizing to me. So I try to orient my programs around that. (I’m currently following an 80 day plan that I am absolutely loving!)
4. Take supplements.
I get my daily multivitamin in my superfoods smoothies I’m always raving about, but I’ve recently started adding an omega-3 supplement to my routine and have considered adding Sam-E. Both offer support for emotional well-being and have been found to be good alternative methods for treating SAD.
5. Create space for you.
If you’ve been around here the last couple of weeks, you know my focus right now is being intentional and purposeful. Although it probably sounds a bit ambiguous, it’s gone a long way for helping me navigate issues with seasonal mood changes. I try to give myself space to rest and recoup when I need to, and I make an effort every day to be grateful as well as to challenge myself. I’m also making it a practice to get together with and/or at least chat with more of the people who bring joy to my life on a regular basis.
If you’re feeling a little sad (or SAD) this time of year, I invite you to try a few of my suggestions and see if they don’t help. And like I mentioned before, if you feel you’re in need of a little more support than that, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted professional – that is an important part of self-care too! And if you’d like to join a FREE community of other women committed to pursuing their best lives, I encourage you to visit us over at the Living Contently Wellness Community.