I have Seasonal Affective Disorder – better known as SAD. Typically people write it off as just getting sick of winter. “Yeah I get sick of being inside too” “Shoveling makes me SAD too” But it’s really so much more than that.
Why So SAD?
Mayo clinic defines SAD as “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer”.
The fall weather is on it’s way, and while fall is my favorite season, I already am feeling the effects in my body. For me, SAD presents as having low energy, having issues sleeping (not being able to fall asleep and then sleeping too much), having a tough time focusing on anything, and losing interest in things. All of these then usually lead to over-eating, which leads to weight gain, then to feeling more sluggish and gross.
While I can’t just “talk myself out of” feeling the effects of SAD, there are some things that help me avoid the brunt of it. Here is a list of things that help me!
- Sticking to a sleep schedule. SAD affects your circadian rhythm, so I work to be proactive with my sleep schedule. I know I function best with 8 hours of sleep, so I do my best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day to help train my body. I also use a light therapy sunrise alarm clock that mimics being woken up by sunlight.
- Moving my body.I truly hate exercising. I hate taking time out of my day to get sweaty and then have to shower etc etc. But YES, I am a fitness coach and I do try to make working out a priority. I know that when I move my body, it releases endorphins in my brain that help combat the negative chemicals. As an added bonus, exercise (especially weight lifting) helps me sleep better!
- My happy light. Mine is a used Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device. I got it towards the end of winter last year, and haven’t used it consistently enough yet to notice a difference. I will be giving it a better shot this year (or more likely, purchasing a different light that isn’t blue and stands on it’s own).
- Eating well. This one is sooooo tough. I love comfort foods. I love heavycarbs and homemade breads. However, fueling my body with lighter, healthier foods always seem to have a better effect on my body and my mood than heavier foods often associated with winter.
Other things less backed by science that seem to help me:
- My bonfire-scented candle. Since we can’t always get fresh air inside, this helps me feel a bit less “enclosed”!
- Planning something exciting. Something to look forward to around the end of winter (late January and February have always been my hardest months. I think it’s because in March we start to get a little more sunlight).
- Taking a warm bath. Grab a book and a glass of wine, and call it a win!
- Getting out of the house. This one is especially tough this year because I work from home AND I hate driving in the snow. Often Cody and I will go walk around the mall (yes, I know. Totally touristy. But we can easily walk like three miles!)
- Music. I’m building up a HAPPY playlist on Spotify so send me your favorite songs!
You’re not alone!
I know that I’m not the only person who feels the effects of SAD each year, and you’re not alone either! What are some things that you find helpful?