Anyone who suffers all Winter from Seasonal Affective Disorder ( also known as SAD- how coincidental) can tell you that, well, it sucks.
I know because I suffer from it.
Years ago, it had no name in my life- not that I knew of anyway- and it was just a lethargic feeling that came each Winter- a great need for sleep, a mild depressed or down feeling and that feeling that something is just missing, you know?
That perk in your step, that extra energy that comes on a sunny day with blazing blue skies, that way you spring out of bed.....wow, how I miss that.
Some people get anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and a general feeling of lack of energy.
Supposedly the melatonin and seratonin levels in our bodies are affected by the lack of sunlight and some people are just more prone to being affected by the lack of light.
But as I write this, it is approaching March and I know in a short month or 2, as the daylight hours become linger and the sun becomes stronger ( here in NY and other northern climates), I'll start feeling more energy and more desire to get out and do more! Basically, I'll become ME again. I'm sure you know that feeling.
However, there are many things we can do all Winter to help cope with SAD. I've been reading for the last few years and have implemented a few things that seem to help, and just can't hurt.
Keep in mind, I am not a medical professional and I make NO claims that any of these suggestions will cure you or even help you.
Having said that, after talking to your doctor to rule out any serious or underlying disorder, there are some steps you can take to help you deal with SAD.
I have tried some of these and they seem to work for me.
1- Get a light box to sit under a few hours, or at least 30 minutes a morning. I've been using this great little light by Verilux called the Happy Light 6000. Yes, sounds a little terminator-ish but I do think it works. And love the brightness it gives me on a Winter morning , especially those grey rainy days. It's highly recommended and well-reviewed, too.
The happy light is said to lift spirits, sharpen concentration and improve energy levels plus help with the effects of seasonal change, Winter Blues, shift work and jet lag by emulating the natural daylight to improve mood and overall sense of well-being. Sounds good right? I think anyone in a dark home in the Winter could probably enjoy the light this little box gives off!
2- Take Omegas. I've used many brands but currently like Nordic Naturals the best. They seem to be a top quality and highly rated brand in the magazines I have read. You can get any brand you choose but make sure they are purified and contain both EPA and DHA. I also shop at Vitacost very often. They offer you $10 off your first $30 order and have GREAT prices.
3- Get your vitamin D levels checked by a Doctor. If you are low and they say to supplement, getting on a daily regime of D is supposed to help. This brand is quite popular, and is GMO and soy free. It provides 5000 iu of D. Again, check with a medical pro or nutritionist after getting your blood levels checked to see if you need to take D and how much. Normally D is in every multi-vitamin but in a lower amount and not sufficient for these months.
4- Get out daily and exercise. Yikes, I know, this is the hardest one for me when I feel like sitting on the couch all day. Even 15 minutes of fresh, albeit frigid , air is supposed to be therapeutic unless it's just too cold, say, under 32 degrees. And of course, getting the blood pumping indoors is great too. Exercise alleviates many symptoms. As I have mentioned, you should check with your doctor about your particular needs but of course, all doctors do agree that exercise is beneficial for every single person.
But I know we don't always feel like getting outside and many days we can't due to the weather. I use this great little portable indoor stepper on cold days. You can use it in the smallest apartment and it hardly takes up space. My kids love to hop on it too. I've had mine for 10 years now. What a great buy! Best $60 you will spend on your health. Though I'd prefer to be out walking the park, at least I can put on The Talk or some home improvement show and get my 20-30 minutes a day in.
5- Start practicing yoga if you don't already.
I've been doing yoga for 10 years and though some weeks I can only squeeze in 2- 15 minutes sessions, it really is a great practice to start.
It's about flexibility, of course, but it's so somuch more. It's about focus. About breathing. About getting to know yourself on a whole new level.
I know for some people ( like me) it's hard to sit and relax enough to hold the poses. Meditation is hard for me too, but I try and it's supposed to work wonders. If you've never done yoga, you can look around your home town for a yoga studio , gym or library that offers classes. I love DVD's and some of my favorite instructors are Baron Baptiste . You can start with his Journey into Power yoga DVD and see how you like it.
There are literally hundreds of yoga DVD's to get. A nice gentler one for beginners that I have done is
AM/PM yoga for beginners.
Another beginner series are the YogaZone DVD's with various gentle instructors-nothing too new- agey, if that is what you are looking for.
You can get a mat, strap, block and DVD all for under $30 from Gaiam here.
6- Try taking warm baths with essential oils or diffusing them around the house. Certain oils are supposed to alleviate stress and relax us. I definitely find it makes a difference with I use a remedy rolled on my pulse points and smell it often or when I add a few drops of essential oils into a bath. Epsom salt baths are very relaxing too. I get mine from this company Feel free to look into them, too, or buy them anywhere oils are sold. Look for organic or therapeutic standards.
Another thing that is supposed to be GREAT for people with SAD is to travel south in the Winter. Of course, this one is the priciest.
I wish I had relatives in Florida! But one of these years, we will visit cousins Mickey and Minnie in early February and help battle the blues with some Disney Magic.
I also know that doing things that bring you happiness , I mean REAL JOY, can help you through the Winter months. Whatever your passion, make sure you don't put it aside. Indulge in it, enjoy it and your days will be more pleasurable of course.
I hope you find some solutions to your personal battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. If any of the ways or items I've mentioned helped you please leave a comment. If you have your own suggestions, also let us know. There are many people who need to know they are not the only ones and that they can work toward feeling better.
DISCLOSURE: I am not a medical professional so check with your personal doctor before considering your own remedies for seasonal affective disorder. I do earn a very small amount of money from the items and the programs listed above or on the sidebar of this site if you purchase them. Please also be aware that I personally have used, or read, any item I recommend. If you do not feel these programs or items or books would be good for you, please do not purchase them. I simply like to share what I have found to work for me.