Each year just as the holidays roll in I find myself bouncing between feeling joyful and blah. It’s a feeling where I don’t feel like myself and simple life tasks take a lot of extra energy. I am one of many people who struggles with SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to American Family Physician (aafp.org), 4 to 6 percent of people may have winter depression while another 10 to 20 percent may have SAD. It is more common in people who live up north compared to those in the south. I live in Nevada, one of the sunniest states in the country, and find myself extremely sensitive when I don’t get enough sun.
During the season when sun is more limited, I implement a few things to support my body. It’s taken me a while to figure out what helps me the most, so I’m sharing this with you ,hoping it will also help you to explore what works for your body.
I choose to be gentle with myself and recognize how I am feeling is probably a chemical reaction inside of me. This alone helps me to not feel crazy or slump into a dark place.
I add joy and fun activities whenever possible. I try to find things where I can be creative or where I can genuinely laugh a lot. Often this is spending times with my husband or close friends.
I work with my doctor to monitor my vitamin D levels.
I get outside as much as possible. This is one I’m trying to be better at because I have never enjoyed being cold. I am trying to change my mindset because an article I recently read said, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. This resonated with me so I try to bundle up and get my face in the sun as often as I can. This one is really easy if you have a dog to walk or a friend to chat with on the phone.
I eat a clean diet full of colorful seasonal food like squashes, beets and onions to make soups and salads. I try to avoid processed foods and foods with a lot of sugar.
I use a happy light at my desk. I find a few of my SAD symptoms come out majorly when I’m at work. Often I have lack of desire and drive to do my job and I feel very low energy. As soon as I turn on my light, I’m back to my normal self, able to productively conquer the day.
I move my body. My favorite ways to do this lately have been yoga and TRX. Between both styles I’m able to get my heart rate up, challenge my stability, work on my core and improve my flexibility. For you, this could be anything else as long as you get your body moving and you produce some endorphins!
When I’m having an off day or days, I don’t keep how I’m feeling a secret. I share it with loved ones who can help support me.
All of these activities are beneficial to anyone at any time of the year, but work really well to help my body thrive in the winter. I hope they help you to start supporting your body too!
If you have a more serious case of seasonal affective disorder or you are clinically depressed, it’s important to get help. There are many people who can help you to feel better. You are never alone and should never feel bad for needing to ask for help.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!