Do you feel slow and sluggish when the dark months set in?
Are you struggling to stay motivated at work? Do you find yourself eating more carbs, taking naps, and convincing yourself that one more cookie is no big deal? Well, you are not alone and if you’re like nearly 20% of the population, these may be signals that something more serious is happening with your internal chemical composition.
Natural light plays a much larger role in our overall health than many people realize. Since the early 1970s researchers have known that people who are exposed to more sunlight each day not only sleep better, but are also more productive, have more energy, and in general report a more positive attitude.
It’s no wonder that the lack of sunlight in the winter months causes such problems on our overall health and wellness. If you find yourself feeling sad or depressed most days of the week, have low energy, experience changes in your appetite or weight, have problems sleeping, have difficulty concentrating, or have frequent thoughts of death or suicide, you could have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
While SAD is also sometimes referred to as winter depression, there are people who experience similar symptoms in the spring and summer as well.
Those impacted in the summer months often feel anxious or restless and have a lower than normal appetite instead of the reverse that’s common with those affected in the winter.
If these symptoms sound like something you experience with the changing of the seasons, there are a few things you can do to get your energy back on track.
Here are 5 Ways to Ease the Symptoms of SAD
- Light Therapy
Light therapy helps thousands of people get through these difficult months. A special device produces light that replicates the natural full spectrum of the sun which triggers chemicals in your brain that help regulate your mood. While there is a lot of information on the internet about various light-producing products that claim to supply the correct spectrum, it’s always best to consult your doctor first to make sure you get something that will work best for you.
Dawn simulators are another form of light therapy that mimics the rising of the sun. Instead of using an alarm clock; dawn simulators wake you up with a slow increase of full-spectrum light.
- Talk to A Therapist
Often talking to a trusted professional will help identify patterns in negative thinking or self-imagery. A trained psychotherapist can give you helpful, positive ways to relax, cope, and get back some of the energy you’ve lost.
- Go Outside
Go outside more often. Unless you live in the extreme climates of the world, there is some sunlight during a few hours of the day. The fresh air, the vitamin D you absorb from the sun, and the exercise you’ll get just from stepping out your door will help.
For mild cases, consider aromatherapy. Using essential oils to influence the parts of your brain that are responsible for controlling your mood, your appetite, and your internal clock can be a quick energy boost for nearly anyone any time of year.
Of course, medication is also an option. Antidepressants come in many forms and depending on your symptoms, might be the best way to get you feeling better quickly.
No matter where you live if your depression happens during the winter or summer months, or you are sleeping too much or not enough, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Four to six percent of people experience SAD on a high level and another 10-20% on a milder level. It’s important to speak up and get help so you can keep your life moving in the positive direction you deserve.
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Do you have any tips that have helped you reduce the effects of SAD that did not get mentioned above? Please share them with us in the comments section below!
– The Wellness Universe
*This article was previously published on December 12, 2018
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