Winter…we have a love/hate relationship.
Love: beautiful snow falls (when I’m inside), holidays, time with families, warm cozy sweaters, cute leather boots, fuzzy scarves, hot tea, pumpkin oatmeal, holiday music
Hate: darkness, coldness, dreariness, depressing-ness…
Okay, looking at that list, I am thankful I have a lot more love than hate but I think the hardest thing for me during this time of year is overcoming the desire to crawl inside at 5:00 pm and hibernate. Hearing these gripes around school, I know I’m not alone. My mood is affected by the weather and environment and on some level, I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What is SAD?
It’s simply depression that happens during the year, usually in the winter when there is less sunlight and is affected by the light, UV rays, body temperature, genes, and hormones.
Hear are some symptoms:
- Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)..think too much comforting mac n’ cheese and
- Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
- Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon
- Loss of interest in work or other activities
- Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
- Social withdrawal
- Unhappiness and irritability
You have to be careful with SAD, as with all depression, because it can build over time so you might not notice it until the symptoms are unbearable.
So now that we are all depressed, how do I combat SAD?
- Exercise (DUH!) you could have seen that one coming – staying active keeps me happy, healthy, and releases all those good neurotransmitters. It also helps to keep off the weight gain that can come this time of year with the holidays. It is a win-win.
- Keep busy – I make extra effort to plan get togethers with friends. They are the key to happiness…And if you can’t bear to venture outside, invite your friends over for dinner, movies, games, etc.
- Find a hobby – for those nights and days when I just can’t be outside or busy with friends, it is important to have a hobby to do, besides watch hours of television. I hope to paint more this winter, blog, and read a few more books. Other ideas: scrap booking, knitting, sewing, other crafting, writing in a journal, playing board games, cards…
- Get outside when you can! I try to stay active outside, still running, walking, hiking, sledding, etc so I don’t feel claustrophobic in my apartment.
- Laugh – read the comics, look at funny websites, watch a good movie.. you get the drill.
- Eat foods that make you happy – sorry, I don’t mean cakes, cookies, and candies but rather foods with healthy omegas which can improve mood. Good options are salmon, avocado, nuts, and flax seed. A glass of red wine or piece of dark chocolate also provides happy antioxidants (just don’t go overboard).
- Reach out – If I am feeling overwhelmed and my depression is getting the best of me, I am sure to let someone know (family, friends, a pastor, etc). Just talking about what I am feeling usually makes me feel better.
- Plan a tropical vacation – and take me with you 🙂
Thankfully the cold weather will eventually pass but in the meantime, enjoy the season and be sure to get some help if you are feeling too depressed.
Do you have SAD? How do you combat the symptoms?