It’s that time of year again. The days are shorter with less sunlight, the weather turns colder, your energy and mood begin to dip and the urge to hibernate kicks in. This annual combination of events can cause you to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise known as the winter blues.
Are you experiencing symptoms of SAD? Here’s a quick checklist for you:
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Loss of or increase in appetite
- Low energy and fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
Although these symptoms are unpleasant, the good news is that they can be avoided with the following four simple steps.
- INVEST IN A SAD LIGHT. A SAD light mimics the effects of the sun. As the natural bright light decreases in the winter your internal clock (which regulates sleep/wake cycles) becomes confused. It begins to produce the wrong chemicals at the wrong time of day. Shining the SAD light on your face helps your brain to regulate these chemicals, creating a normal body schedule.
- EXERCISE. Move your body! By going for a brisk walk, practicing yoga or dancing in your living room, you’ll stimulate serotonin, the “feel good” hormones in your brain. Regular exercise will boost your mood, your energy levels and will help you sleep soundly at night. Try to schedule in at least 20 minutes of movement each day.
- OMEGA-3 TO THE RESCUE! Proper diet is a crucial component in regulating symptoms of SAD. Found in foods such as eggs and salmon, Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best things you can consume during the change of seasons. By regulating brain activity and appetite, you will experience a decrease in weight fluctuations and an increase in focus.
- GET YOUR VITAMIN D. Vitamin D has been proven to help regulate mood swings, your immune system and bone health. The easiest way to get your daily dose is by exposing your skin to the sun. It may be cold in the winter, but when the sun is out, head outside even if only for five minutes. Vitamin D is also SUPER prevalent in fish. Did you know that Salmon has almost twice the amount of vitamin D than any other food on the planet?
Don’t let SAD bring you down this winter. Try these four strategies and you’ll be emotionally equipped to handle the darker days of winter. Unfortunately, they won’t melt that snow in your driveway however look on the bright side, shoveling is great form of exercise!