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Getting Proactive Against Seasonal Affective Disorder

Depression often comes with a huge stigma attached to it when it shouldn’t. It should be something people tackle head-on and manage as best they can. I’m writing this in the middle of October, and I know that as we inch ever closer to winter, my mood is going to change a good bit.

Why is that? Well, like millions of people around the globe at this time of year, I often start feeling the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For some people, it’s a case of feeling a bit glum from time to time, while some people effectively shut down and act completely differently in the winter months.

SAD can have an impact on everything from your appetite and mood to sleep patterns and energy levels. So how can any of us make sure SAD doesn’t become overbearing at this time of year? Here are some ways to become proactive throughout the day, which can hopefully help anyone shake away those winter blues.

Every morning, make a curtain alarm

You get up in the morning, and it’s dark. You get home in the evening, and it’s dark. The lack of sunlight plays a major role in SAD, and for those of us stuck indoors most of the day, any exposure to sunlight is going to help.

That’s why having a “curtain alarm” is a must. Set a time every morning after you get up for you to open every curtain in your home. You want to get as much sunlight in as possible.  If you live in an apartment or space which doesn’t get much natural light, set the alarm to go off at midday and make a point of going outside, even if it is just for a quick walk around the block. It’s when the sun is at it’s highest and brightest.

Natural sunlight exposure does so much to keep your body in balance, so make sure you’re embracing the sun as much as possible.

Every afternoon, get moving
You’ll not want to do much when it’s gloomy outside, and becoming passive/lazy in the colder months can alter your mood quickly. That’s why it helps to have a set time of day where you get busy. 

Running outside, even if just for half an hour, is ideal but we all know that rainy afternoon can quickly put a stop to that. That’s why I always swear by doing HIIT classes in my living room. I play a video from YouTube on the TV and try my best. Do I always make it to the end? Of course not. But does getting the body moving and working up a sweat help? 100%!

And if you are trying to get used to exercising at home, make sure you still warm-up and cool down properly by learning How To Ease Sore Muscles After An Extensive Workout.

Every evening, have everyone make dinner

Whether you’re living with family, or share an apartment with other people, connection helps immensely with staying a positive mood. There’s no better way to bring people together than cooking in the kitchen. 

Not only does cooking a good meal give you something to do, but it also gives your brain time to unwind while you’re talking with someone. You can even do it if you live alone, by video calling someone while you cook, especially if you’re the type of person who often says they don’t have enough time in the day to catch up. You’ll be surprised how little people care about you talking while your chew when they’re on the other side of your screen.

Even if you’re terrible at cooking, you can get better with some of the food articles on the site here.

Every night, avoid those late-night YouTube binges

If you’re guilty of taking your phone to bed every night, and then wondering why you feel awake at 2 am, you’ll want to bring screen exposure right down. With so many of us working/studying from home now, the majority of the day revolves around staring at screens.

Prolonged exposure can lead to too much artificial blue light signalling to our brains that we want to be alert. While it’s ideal for that 10 am Zoom call, it isn’t when you’re in bed and wanting to get to sleep. So how can you avoid the exposure? If you can, try to limit the amount of time spent in front of your laptop or phone, especially in the evenings. If you can’t, consider getting glasses to block blue light. They’ll help reduce eye strain and help stop the light sending the signals to your brain that you should be active and alert.

Doing so can help you get a better night’s sleep, which is so important in preventing SAD from overtaking your day.

Every day, check-in with yourself

Lastly, it is important to recognise how you feel and if the change in seasons is having an impact on your day. Taking a moment to stop and ask yourself if you’re day is going ok and whether you’ve been acting negatively.

It may be worthwhile keeping a journal or leaving a quick note in your phone calendar on days you don’t feel good to see patterns emerge. And if you think you are affected by SAD, get in touch with your doctor to see how they can help.

Read our latest health posts!

Stay up to date with tips on living a healthier life by reading the latest health posts from the blog here, covering everything from working out to using supplements for the first time. 

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Written by Jordan

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