Happy Monday and Happy Thanksgiving week!
I don't know about you guys, but this time of year always hits me really hard. It gets dark super early and by 430 p.m., I already feel like it's so late. I get tired sooner and feel like I don't have a whole lot of energy. And for a lot of people, they also feel down and depressed. I mean, we spend a lot of our time during the winter in the night-time (aka, dark) hours, so it makes sense.
There's also a name for this...it's called Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Luckily, however, there are ways to combat and treat this disorder. And I have an amazing guest blogger today to help shed some light on those ways!
Allow me to introduce Kimberly Hayes!
Kimberly enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.
Check out what she has to say about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
During the holidays, winter can seem magical, but as the months drag on and darkness and chill set in, some may find themselves with low energy and feeling depressed. The lack of sunlight can have an adverse effect on one’s brain chemistry. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition that commonly occurs in the winter months, and it’s important to learn how to combat the disorder, either for yourself or those you love.
What Is It?
SAD is a form of clinical depression, which is why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms. If you seem to be spending longer in bed, are fatigued no matter how much sleep you get, are eating carb-heavy foods and craving more, can’t concentrate, or feel down and can’t shake it, you may be suffering from SAD. If you have a familial history of mood disorders or are a woman or young adult, you’re more likely to suffer from the disorder. Since the cause of SAD is related to imbalanced brain chemistry, you or your loved one won’t simply be able to will yourself to get better. You need to take action, which can be difficult when suffering with the disorder. It’s important, then, to be proactive at the beginning of these dark months or when you first start to notice the signs. Luckily, there are several ways to treat the condition.
It may sound New Agey, but light therapy has a documented effect on seasonal affective disorder. Get as much early morning light as you can. Avoid sunglasses at this time, as the light passing through the eye is what triggers the shift in your brain. However, if you can’t get access to sunlight, there are specialized lamps and light boxes you can purchase to simulate the sunlight. These fixtures use cool-white fluorescent light and only require you to use the device for 20-60 minutes a day. If you don’t have the time to bask in light for so long, there are dawn simulators that use full-spectrum lighting to wake you. Recent studies suggest they may be as effective as light boxes.
If you notice a friend or loved one becoming withdrawn, it may be time to encourage them to get out. When we become depressed, our motivation dwindles, and even doing basic tasks like showering or eating regularly can be hard to manage. Yet, it’s suggested that socialization and being surrounded by friends and loved ones can have a positive mental effect. If you find that you no longer have the desire or drive to visit your friends, it may be time to text them and ask them to come over. It’s a start, requires minimal effort on your part, and may be the motivation that gets you back into the swing of things. Ask your friends to help you get outside and to make plans and hold you to them.
Avoid Substance Abuse
It can be tempting to turn to substances to try to alleviate the symptoms of SAD during the winter months, especially if you’re in recovery. The idea of an instant fix may be appealing, but it won’t work. Alcohol and other substances will not make you feel better, especially in the long term. The withdrawals will have you needing more and more, until you have entered a vicious cycle that can send you spiraling. If you’re struggling with addiction, have phone numbers ready to call someone in an emergency. Stay active, incorporate light therapy, and go outside for positive activity. For example, go for a walk with a friend rather than going dancing at a club if you know you may be tempted to drink. See a movie with a family member, engage in activities that bring you joy, and if you cannot kick your depression, speak to your doctor.
SAD is a real condition and can be quite serious. People from all walks of life suffer from it, and there is no shame as you cannot control the chemicals in your brain. However, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you remain healthy and well, even during the darkest months of the year.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Reach out to Kimberly if you have more questions about SAD. These are definitely great tips and ways to combat these short days and long evenings/nights.
I hope you have a beautiful week and an amazing Thanksgiving with friends and family!
With love and wellness,