When the weather grows colder and the days get shorter, you may notice a sudden and jarring decline in energy, concentration and mood. If you find yourself changing in an undesired way when winter weather arrives, you may be one of the 4 – 6 percent of Americans who the American Academy of Family Physicians associate with suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
According to MayoClinic.org, SAD is brought about by reduced exposure to sunlight, which can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and lead to imbalances of serotonin and melatonin. These factors can lead to issues with the sleep cycle, which creates fatigue, and can create chemical imbalances that can lead to irritability, anxiety and depression.
Fortunately, there are steps that one can take to aid in the fight against Seasonal Affective Disorder. If your mood tends to change in the winter, then consider the following remedies.
A great means to getting your mood back on track is to be more meticulous about the foods you eat during the winter. According to Prevention.com, SAD may trigger cravings for sweet and simple carbohydrates, but giving into those cravings can create energy spikes that ultimately only worsen energy and mood issues. To combat this, it is recommended that those affected by SAD eat balanced meals that include proteins and colorful vegetables. Specifically, foods with omega-3 and vitamin D are surefire ways to battle off seasonal depression.
WebMD.com also recommends checking your coffee intake. While caffeine provides a necessary boost to get through the day, it is also a natural serotonin suppressant. To ensure that you feel refreshed all day long, save coffee for after meals and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Time.com lists dawn simulators as one of the top methods for combatting SAD. Operating in the place of a traditional alarm clock, a dawn simulator or wake-up light gradually increases its light’s intensity in the morning in a manner that simulates the sunrise. Rather than jarring you awake, this method allows your body to prepare itself to wake up more steadily, which helps to provide an internal balance and ensure that you wake up feeling rested.
Working hand-in-hand with the idea of treating your body better is the concept of exercise. RealSimple.com cites a 2005 Harvard University study that revealed the effectiveness of exercising consistently in fighting symptoms of depression. Whether you enjoy walking, jogging, yoga, martial arts or lifting weights, exercising for a cumulative three hours a week is a great way to get in better shape and boost your brain’s production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters.
Take a break
If you have vacation days to use, there is no better time to get away than in the dreary winter months. Time.com recommends planning a trip to a warmer climate in order to boost your vitamin D levels and improve mood with the natural excitement of being in a new place. Doing so will not only help motivate you in the days prior to leaving, but it will also create a hangover effect that can stick with you long after you have returned to your routine.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real issue that plagues many people, but it does not have to control your mood. If you believe that you suffer from SAD, consider taking the aforementioned steps and other appropriate measures to fight back and reclaim your happiness.
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