Winter is difficult. By now, the joy of the holidays is fading. Winter weather has undoubtedly snuffed a few plans. Sled riding has lost its appeal. All of a sudden everything becomes a chore, and your mood gets darker and colder — like the weather outside. If that’s the case, you may be feeling the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
What is SAD?
According to WebMD, SAD is “a type of depression that affects a person during the same time each year.”
Those at risk for SAD are:
- People living in areas where winter days are very short.
- People ages 15-55.
- Those with relatives who have SAD.
- Feeling sad or grumpy.
- Losing interest in things you enjoy, or other activities.
- Eating more comfort foods, especially carbohydrates.
- Gaining weight.
- Sleeping more.
Beating the winter blues
WebMD says doctors often prescribe light therapy to help combat SAD. It’s believed that SAD is caused by lack of sunlight, which may upset circadian rhythms, causing problems with a brain chemical called Serotonin. Serotonin affects mood. Low Serotonin levels are linked with feeling sad, anxious or depressed.
Other things to lift your spirits
Light therapy can help. Oftentimes using a light box can lift your spirits. Other things can lift your mood as well, in case you’re not interested in trying a light box.
- Let the sun in. Pull back drapes and open blinds during the day to fill your home with sunlight.
- Work by a window. If you work at home, or in an office, maximize your sun exposure by working near a window. Working near an open window may also increase creativity.
- Exercise regularly. It’s no surprise that exercise can help with winter blues. Exercise has been shown to lift spirits. The American Psychological Association says that within five minutes of moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancing boost.
- Get outside. Though it may be cold, get outside for a walk. Not only will it expose you to some sunlight, it’s also good exercise.
- Grow indoor plants. Plants can help filter the stagnant air that accumulates indoors during winter. PLants can also increase creativity and lighten moods, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
If you’re feeling down and think you may have SAD see a physician.