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5 Ways I Tackled Seasonal Affective Disorder

by Maddy Oliver| November 23, 2015

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This is how it begins: I wake up after Halloween and all of the sudden it’s not July anymore. Time has passed and the sunny days of summer are officially a memory and the cold, harsh winter is approaching. The days have become shorter, cooler, and gloomier while the sunlight retreats behind a dreary, grey sky. Simple daily tasks that are normally easy do nothing but leave me feeling drained and despondent.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.

Around 25% of people experience mild to severe SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I am one of them.

To be honest, I didn’t even know there was such a thing until I was sitting in my college psychology class and related to the symptoms the textbook listed.

By definition, SAD is a “type of depression related to the change in seasons—SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year.”

For me, this can be better described as trying to run in a swimming pool full of honey. No matter how hard you try to get to the other side, the heavy thickness of the honey pulls you down.

I suffered from SAD for 5 years before realizing I had it. However, I can happily say that now with proper treatment, I don’t experience the depressive thoughts, lack of motivation and, hey, I actually look forward to the change in seasons (mainly for the cute fall sweaters, let’s be real).

But I’m not here to talk about fall clothes; I’m here to help you brighten your life with (drug-free) treatments that have helped me tackle Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  1. Light Therapy

I would say this is the easiest way to begin treatment. Essentially all you do is sit in front of this light in the morning for gradual amounts of time. It mimics outside light, which causes you to boost your serotonin levels and reset your circadian clock. Typically you should see results within two weeks of beginning this treatment. Please consult a doctor before beginning this treatment to see what works best for you.

  1. Plants

Perhaps it’s the subtle smell of crisp freshness but there is something about plants that automatically boosts my mood, and psychology has shown that plants give you an uplifting happy feeling. In fact, there have been studies shown that link hospital patients who have plants in their rooms to faster recovery times and pleasant emotions than those without.

  1. Exercise

Not only does exercise improve mood, but it also reduces stress, which can help kick Seasonal Affective Disorder (or any depression) right in the butt. Although all exercise will help, the most effective are types are the ones that make you sweat (think brisk walking, running, cycling, sledding, etc.)

Need wintertime workout motivation? Here’s a tip: without thinking twice, throw on your favorite workout clothes and then decide to work out or not.

  1. Diet

Wintertime is notoriously to be a time we load up on unhealthy foods with LOTS of sugar. This type of diet can wreck havoc when treating symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Try to stick with complex carbohydrates, Omega 3 fatty acids, and foods rich in Vitamin D.

  1. Vacation

Sometimes all you need is a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny for a week or two during the dead of winter. Booking a trip in advance will not only gives your mind something to look forward but the warm weather is sure to help boost serotonin levels.

Depending on how mild or severe your own personal SAD is, these tips may be a great place for you to start taking back your (shorter) days!

Maddy Oliver

Maddy loves holistic living and is an avid yogi with a passion for traveling and discovering new cultures. When she’s not traveling, she loves trying new healthy recipes with her husband at their home in Kauai, HI.

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