For sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter months can be difficult. The lack of light, cold temperatures, and limited outdoor activities can make it hard to feel motivated to get out of bed in the morning. One of the recommendations for those who suffer from SAD is to take a midseason vacation to a warm destination. However, that is not always feasible for everyone with limited vacation time, family obligations, or a strict budget to follow.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope to finding relief from SAD symptoms in the winter. We list three Seasonal Affective Disorder remedies below that you can do at-home.
What is SAD?
SAD is a type of depression that only emerges during certain times of the year. While many people assume SAD can only be present during the winter months, those diagnosed with SAD can experience different symptoms of the disorder and at different times throughout the year. Most people encounter symptoms from the disorder during the fall and winter months, but it can also appear during the spring and summer months.
For those who experience SAD during the winter, it’s believed that the lack of light, cold weather, and shorter days can all contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder. But SAD is not to be confused with “winter blues.” It can be normal to feel more tired and more likely to stay home to avoid the cold in the winter, but someone with SAD experiences severe symptoms that disrupt their quality of life, including mood swings, oversleeping, weight gain, loss of interest, social withdrawal, or thoughts of death. Seek help immediately if you, or someone you know, is struggling with any of the symptoms of SAD.
Participate in Light Therapy
Light therapy, or phototherapy, is one of the best ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder at home. This therapy method involves using a device that radiates a bright, white light. When first starting this treatment method, it’s recommended to be exposed to a fluorescent lightbox for 30 minutes per day shortly after you first wake up in the morning. This is typically the first line of treatment for those suffering from SAD during the winter months.
If you cannot purchase a lightbox, increase the amount of natural sunlight that enters your home by leaving curtains or drapes drawn, sitting near a window if possible, and waking up earlier to take full advantage of the daylight.
Engage in Activities You Enjoy
Although winter may limit some of your favorite summer activities, such as swimming, hiking, or fishing, there are still plenty of seasonal activities that can be enjoyed despite the cold weather. Stay busy and keep your mind occupied during the winter with hobbies you enjoy or try new ones that may become a new favorite. Some suggestions:
- Visit a ski slope and go skiing, snowboarding, or tubing
- Host a game night at your home with friends and family
- Try ice skating at your local rink
- Binge watch your favorite shows
- Attend crafting or cooking classes
- See a movie or a show
- Volunteer with a charity you’re passionate about
- Tackle your home improvement projects
By learning a new skill or finishing a project, you’ll stay busy and feel productive. Once you achieve a sense of satisfaction and pride that comes as a result, you’ll be motivated to stay active and complete more on your winter to-do list.
Practice Healthy Habits
Prioritizing your physical health can go a long way in improving your mental health, as well. Stay active during the winter months and focus on exercising daily. By increasing physical activity, it will help relieve stress and anxiety, and boost one’s mood. Another tip for reducing stress and anxiety that can be linked to SAD is introducing stress management techniques into your day as well as meditation practices. These can include yoga, breathing exercises, and music or art therapy.
Another healthy habit to adopt is choosing well-balanced meals that limit sugar intake and increase the nutrients and vitamins your body needs. Avoid turning to alcohol or drugs for relief of your symptoms.
Ask for Help
Don’t put off symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or assume how you’re feeling is just a case of the “winter blues.” There are lifestyle changes that you can make to help address your symptoms and provide relief. Don’t lose hope.
At the Lehigh Center for Clinical Research, our team is working towards tomorrow’s cures…today. Reach out to learn more about how you can join our fight against Seasonal Affective Disorder. Contact us today.