For a lot of people, the thought of winter coming isn’t exactly a great one. Shorter, much colder days and sketchier driving situations usually come to mind. Although many of us don’t particularly enjoy winter, either, many others have much more serious reactions to its onset.
These reactions usually begin around the start of autumn when the days grow shorter and the weather becomes a bit more unpredictable. The condition is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it is defined as a mood disorder that typically comes about in the autumn and lasts throughout the colder, darker months of winter. In many cases, it is directly tied to changes in the weather and causes individuals to feel more depressed and anxious than usual.
SAD can be extremely difficult to cope with. However, there are a number of natural ways to help yourself to combat it during the winter months. Doing so can work wonders in alleviating some symptoms and limiting the impacts of the others.
Perhaps one of the most valuable ways to help limit the impacts of SAD in your day-to-day life is to work to reduce stressors. Taking the time to create a stress-free environment can be a powerful tool, and small changes can make a big difference. For instance, diffusing relaxing essential oils, going outside, or reducing the time you spend on a smart device can help drop stress levels.
For some, sticking to a routine can really reduce stress and make a difference. Try filling in a calendar with activities and creating a rough daily schedule. Knowing and seeing exactly what your plan is for the day written down can go a long way in making you follow through. Knocking out tasks and feeling productive are very proactive ways to combat SAD symptoms.
Many dealing with the condition struggle most with the lack of daylight that comes with winter and the stress that causes. Actively preventing these negative feelings associated with shorter days can be difficult, but there are numerous ways to do it. For example, you can do things such as:
- Go for a walk outside during your work breaks.
- Open blinds in your home and office space to allow natural light inside during the day.
- Use a light therapy box.
- Wake up to a sunrise alarm or dawn simulator.
- Take a regular vitamin D supplement.
Another great way to help reduce the effects of SAD is to get more exercise. Working out increases endorphins and alleviates stress, both of which have been linked to a reduction in symptoms of depression. It is also, obviously, an important means of staying physically fit and reducing risks of all sorts of health conditions that can make depressive symptoms worse.
Taking your exercise game outside can give you an extra bonus. Not only are you getting a great workout, but you are also getting fresh air and sunlight. All of these things are linked to reductions in the severity of symptoms of SAD.
If you are absolutely not the type of person that wants to exercise outside in the cold, you are not out of luck! There are all sorts of indoor exercise opportunities, ranging from a gym membership to regular exercise classes such as yoga or cycling. You can even take on a home exercise routine. Anything you decide to do in the way of exercise is likely to make a positive difference.
If you know you begin to develop symptoms of SAD every year, and have the means, perhaps you should consider just getting out of town for a while. Planning a trip somewhere and leaving the area can help with symptoms. Likewise, your sunny trip destination can give you a valuable break from winter and all that comes with it.
For some, the idea of living through another winter is completely unbearable. So they become snowbirds — a term for those who travel south for most of the winter to always live somewhere with sunny and warm weather. Becoming a snowbird takes a bit of planning, but can be a great way to avoid SAD and see more of the country.
Don’t feel too bad if becoming a snowbird is way out of the cards for you at this point. Instead, maybe focus on planning a shorter trip to a warm destination as a brief break from the snow and cold. There are all sorts of incredible mental and physical benefits of traveling. Alleviating SAD symptoms is just one of many positives.
The cold weather and shorter days of winter are coming, and that can mean a lot for those suffering from symptoms of SAD. Fortunately, if you typically experience SAD, you can use these tips to help combat the worst of it.