How to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

I always get down this time of year. The shorter days are just too depressing for me. Maybe you have the same problem? Life doesn’t have to be hard once you are diagnosed with SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Once you recognize the symptoms, they should be manageable. SAD itself is a very manageable condition, and there are many ways to live with it.

Get more light.

The best way to keep the blues away during fall and winter, when daylight is shorter, is to expose yourself to light as much as possible. Go out in the morning and bask in the morning light. Open your windows during the day. Spend most of your time near the window where you can get lots of natural light coming in.

Have a vacation.

Most people take a vacation in summer. While you can enjoy summer getaways, you may want to try taking a break from work in winter. Go south, whether there’s more daylight. If the budget permits, escape the winter cold by booking to a tropical resort. If that’s not possible, then just consider taking a break to spend time with friends and family.

Reduce stress.

This is exactly the reason why you should take a vacation or take a break from work. All that work-related stress makes SAD worse. There are different ways to reduce stress. One is by removing the source. Second is by getting away from it. Third is to exercise, because it releases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. Most importantly, get enough sleep.

Eat right.

People with SAD have low serotonin levels. The body needs tryptophan to make serotonin. Thus, it makes sense to eat foods rich in tryptophan. Milk and eggs are rich in tryptophan. You should also eat more apricots, apples, grapes, and oranges because they enhance serotonin levels.

Cut back on alcohol and coffee.

Many SAD sufferers beat the winter slump by loading on caffeine, but the stimulant in coffee offers short-term relief. You have to drink coffee every day to get its mood-boosting benefits, and that comes with a price. You get addicted to it, and you suffer from anxiety and insomnia.

On the other hand, alcohol acts like a depressant, making your wintertime depression worse.

Exercise

Regular exercise coupled with sunlight exposure in the morning is beneficial to people with SAD. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which make you feel good. Try walking or jogging outdoors and enjoy the benefit of longer daylight exposure. Consider trying winter sports, like skiing or snowboarding.

Wake up at the same time every day.

Keep your body clock consistent by waking up at the same time each day. If you wake up at 6 on weekdays, wake up at the same time on weekends. This way, you get to take the advantage of the morning daylight, when you’re supposed to be out to get sunshine.

Take your prescriptions.

You should see your psychologist for management of your SAD. Management may involve medications, which you should take in the right dosage on the right schedule. Follow dosage instructions. Also, take necessary OTC medications or supplements. For instance, your doctor may recommend vitamin D.

Keep a journal of your symptoms.

Your psychologist or psychiatrist might have told you this. If not, it’s wise that you keep a journal of your symptoms just so you can track the progress of the condition. Is it getting worse or better? If you’re experiencing worsening signs of SAD, you may need another appointment with your psychologist or psychiatrist for further evaluation.

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