Are You “SAD”?
Coping with the “winter blues”; Tips to help combat SAD— Seasonal Affect Disorder
WHAT IS SAD?
Have you noticed yourself feeling a little more sluggish, depleted, irritable & withdrawn? You are not alone here. Seasonal affective disorder, appropriately abbreviated as “SAD” or commonly referred to as “The Winter Blues” is a relatively common condition that comes and goes with seasonal changes. This type of seasonal depression typically starts in the fall when there are noticeable changes to daylight and weather patterns. Basically, When our clocks “fall back”, our moods may plummet too. Though we may be momentarily distracted by the holidays and festivities, some of us find ourselves in a state of gloom come January.
Facts about SAD:
- SAD symptoms Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts approximately 10 million Americans, or approximately 1 in every 30 people
- It is most severe between the months of December – February
- SAD can impact people of any age but most likely to affect those in the 18-30 age bracket
- 60-90% of those who suffer from SAD are female, though males may experience more severe symptoms.
- SAD is up to 8 times more prevalent in northern /colder states.
- Low energy levels
- Feeling low, tearful/sad most days
- Social isolation–avoiding people and socializing less than usual
- Sleep issues: oversleeping or difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite, sometimes marked by overly indulging/craving comfort foods
- Concentration issues
- Feelings of worthlessness/hopelessness
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Thoughts of suicide, or “wanting to disappear”
There is research suggesting that SAD may be due to the limited exposure to sun/outdoors that we often fall into the pattern of during colder months. Most of us experience a decrease in Vitamin D levels during these months due to limited daylight and time outdoors. Be intentional about getting outside in the fresh crisp air for at least 20 minutes/day, especially when it’s sunny.
Draw, paint, write a story, write music, strum on a guitar…maybe this is your year to unleash the artist that lives inside of you. It is a known fact that it is in the dark, dreary months of winter and times of despair that many of our favorite artists have found inspiration to be able to create meaningful and inspirational content to share with the world …Taylor Swift anyone?
If the winter blues has you feeling like you’re now glued to the couch or bed, make it a point to move your body doing an exercise of your choice for at least 15-30 minutes/day. Maybe set a reminder on your phone to do this, to help hold you accountable. Maybe recruit a friend to move with you!
CONNECT WITH A FRIEND
Many fall into the pattern of isolation and withdrawing from friends and social activities during these somber months. Make a commitment to call/text at least one friend/support person once a day,. Remind this friend to check in on you if they notice you starting to “disappear” or begin to fall into a hibernating pattern. Be that friend too!
MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT
This can be done by: rearranging furniture, declutter/organize your closet or drawers–there is a proven therapeutic benefit of getting rid of things that no longer serve you. Make some changes in your living space that bring a sense of peace and calm. Allow more light into your space, and your life.