10 Ways to Help Your Seasonal Depression

From aromatherapy to the right diet, we'll help you fight SAD this season with a few easy tips.

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If shorter days and changes in weather make you feel blue, you may have a seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that is related to a change in season. Symptoms include feeling sad most of the day nearly every day. You may also experience low energy, trouble sleeping, feel sluggish or agitated, or feel hopeless. These symptoms can make you want to hibernate until winter is over, but there are treatment options available. Take a look at the 10 tips below to see how you can manage your SAD symptoms.

  1. Try light therapy boxes. Bring the sun back to your life with light therapy boxes. These boxes mimic sunshine by giving off light that is brighter than a typical light bulb and emits in different wavelengths. Sitting in front of one of these for 30 minutes stimulates your body’s circadian rhythms and suppresses the natural release of melatonin. Most people find light therapy boxes most effective when used in the morning.

  1. Get a pet. Research has shown that owning a pet is especially useful for those with depression, and it’s also been shown to reduce anxiety. Owning a pet gives you a sense of responsibility, reduces stress, and boosts levels of feel-good chemicals. Owning a pet might be the perfect cure for SAD. Some companies even allow pets at work, which has been known to reduce workplace stress.

  1. Consider aromatherapy. Essential oils don’t just make your home smell better, they also lift your mood. Scientific studies have shown that essential oils can influence the area of the brain responsible for controlling your mood. Adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath or diffusing them throughout the room can help you feel relaxed and happy.

  1. Get up and move. Even if you don’t feel like getting out of bed, exercise can help you manage—even avoid—SAD symptoms. Exercising for 20-30 minutes everyday releases endorphins that lift your sense of well-being. And, getting up and exercising takes your mind off your worries.

  1. Soak up the sun. On the days when the sun is shining, go enjoy it. Get bundled up and go for a walk in the sun. When you’re inside, open the blinds and let in as much natural light as possible. Natural lighting can have a calming, peaceful affect on your mood, which can help lift feelings of depression. Plus, keeping your blinds open warms the house, and helps you save on your heating bill which might just help your mood a little too.

  1. Socialize with others. One of the last things you’ll want to do when you’re depressed is socialize. However, making an effort to connect with people you enjoy being around can help you cope. They can lift your spirits, offer support, and help take your mind off your feelings.

  1. Get out of town. If you can, take a vacation somewhere warm. Getting out of town for a few days can distract you from your feelings and give you a new perspective. Even though returning home might be difficult, taking a vacation gets you in a new mindset and put you in a better mood. Flying may expose you to unwanted germs, but there is nothing like a great road trip set to your favorite music to create the perfect adventure and lift your spirits.

  1. Eat the right diet. Eating unhealthy foods creates an unhealthy brain. To help you cope with SAD symptoms, eat a healthy diet. Eat foods that promote wellness, improve sleep, and elevate your mood. These foods act as antidepressants and should be a part of your daily diet. There are even tips on eating “greener” that will make you feel better about what you’re eating.

  1. Develop wintertime interests. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Having fun is essential to a good mood so find wintertime activities that you enjoy doing. This could be strapping on a pair of snowshoes, taking a run down a ski slope, or doing a few laps at the ice rink.

  1. Practice relaxation techniques. Try lifting your mood with some yoga poses or deep breathing. Research shows that breathing and mindfulness exercises can significantly decrease stress and help you feel calm and relaxed.

Whatever treatment plan you settle on, you should focus on finding the right one for you. However, if you still find yourself suffering from SAD, speak to your doctor. They can help you find the treatment option that’s right for you. 

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