ad collaborative post // The winter months can be a bear if you have seasonal affective disorder. They might make you wish you were a bruin who could sleep away the next several months. However, life doesn’t slow down for human beings regardless of the weather. You need to find a way to manage your symptoms. Here are five tips to combat seasonal affective disorder.
1. Modify Your Diet
The foods you choose can influence your mood by providing the right combination of nutrients to nourish your neurological health. For example, nuts and seeds contain high levels of minerals like selenium, zinc and magnesium. A deficiency of these can cause the blues any time of year and add to your seasonal depression.
Fortunately, the answer might be as simple as choosing the right snack. In one 2008 study, magnesium performed as well as a tricyclic antidepressant at easing depression. Almonds and cashews contain nearly 20% of the RDA of this mineral. It may sound nutty, but try replacing your chips with mixed nuts and see if your mood improves over a month.
Another food to include is seafood, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests supplementing with omega-3s may help treat depression and prevent it from occurring. Order the tuna salad at lunch and embrace fish Friday.
2. Move Your Body
We get it — the last thing you want to do when seasonal affective disorder wallops you with depression is get dressed and go to the gym. However, think back to the last time you forced yourself to work out when the couch sweetly called. Recall how you felt afterward?
Exercise is the best way to get your body’s natural endorphins flowing without resorting to drugs or alcohol. Here’s a trick if you find yourself gym-reluctant. Promise yourself you’ll work out for only five minutes. Allow yourself to quit after that time — you might have to do so once or twice to prove your freedom to yourself. Chances are, you’ll find the energy to continue most days.
If it’s the frightful weather that has you saying no, what’s wrong with bringing your gym time indoors? You’ll find no shortage of fitness apps and free workouts on YouTube that will have you moving it in your living room.
3. Set up Social Lifelines
Having someone check on you can be a genuine lifesaver. Humans are social creatures. As much as you might feel like holing up in your cave all winter, you still crave connection and companionship.
As much as you might not feel like it, accept that invitation to mingle with colleagues after hours. You can always enjoy a single cup of tea, then leave. Is there a relative or BFF you can check in with once a week if you telecommute and water cooler chat is a thing of the past?
Another way to stay connected is through volunteering. You can find virtual opportunities helping with phone and text banks if COVID has you staying behind doors because of the risks.
4. Talk to Your Doctor
If you know seasonal affective disorder strikes year after year, talk to your doctor before the cold season. An antidepressant may help, but many take eight to 12 weeks to work, meaning the earlier you start, the better.
Not every medication works for everyone. It can take time to find the right regimen for you — stay strong and keep trying.
5. Celebrate Hygge
Do you still wish you were a bear that could hibernate away in the winter? While your metabolic processes might not slow down as much as other mammals, there’s nothing wrong with spending more time between the sheets when the temperature dips.
Oversleeping can be a sign of depression. However, curling up early with a mug of cocoa and a good book is a pleasure the Danish would classify as hygge. Embrace this cozy feeling, knowing that springtime will return soon enough, and with it all the hustle and bustle that comes from long days of daylight. Relish this time of rest.
Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder can cause severe depression that interferes with your functioning. However, you can take steps to prevent it from taking over your life. Try the above tips and embrace the cold season as a time for rest and reflection