How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this Winter
Here we are, amidst winter, with no end in sight. Anyone else already over having temps in the negatives and the sky be consistently gloomy? I know I sure am.
One thing about winter I find particularly challenging, in addition to driving on slick and icy roads, is dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is “a type of depression related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer,” (Mayo Clinic, 2017). According to Mayo Clinic, this is caused by a change in your biological clock and/or a decrease in serotonin and melatonin levels primarily due to the lack of sunlight. Some of the symptoms include (Mayo Clinic, 2017):
- Feeling depressed most of the day and nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Experiencing problems with sleeping
- Noting changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Dealing with difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
HOW TO COMBAT SAD
There are many ways to combat SAD. You do not have to suffer through the rest of the season! Experts suggest light therapy (I personally love and use “happy light”), therapy, medication, and exercise. Research shows many people suffering from SAD are able to avoid their symptoms by incorporating 30 to 60 minutes of exercise and 20 minutes of sunlight each day (Summit Medical Group, 2016).
Exercise increases the production and release of serotonin in your brain, which many SAD sufferers are lacking (Ullrich, 2011). You can start to incorporate exercise by walking, running, weight lifting, or taking group classes, just to name a few. In addition to this, don’t forget to take some of your activities outdoors. Bundle up and get outside to sled, ski, snowboard, or just take the dog for a walk.
One suggestion I have for exercise would be kickboxing. CKO Kickboxing classes could be just the solution you need to add to your routine to help combat your SAD. The classes are 45 minutes to an hour of high intensity interval training and you’ll also be surrounded by motivating individuals who will help encourage you to keep coming back.
Let’s power through this Michigan winter and SAD!
Health and Fitness Enthusiast,
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to raise awareness on Seasonal Affective Disorder and provides simple suggestions on how to combat it. This post should not be relied on for personal medical advice. Please be sure to consult with your doctor on any concerns to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Oct. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364722.
“Summit Medical Group Web Site.” Regular Exercise Protects Against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) | Summit Medical Group, www.summitmedicalgroup.com/news/fitness/regular-exercise-protects-against-seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/.
Ullrich, James. “Defeating Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 6 Nov. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-modern-time-crunch/201611/defeating-seasonal-affective-disorder