The winter months are just around the corner, and as you prepare your home and your wardrobe for colder weather, you may also want to prepare your mind. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real form of depression that is associated with the changing of seasons. This most commonly occurs in the fall and winter months, but in rare cases, it can occur in the spring and summer months. Being prone to SAD isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and there are many steps you can take to help manage your symptoms and help keep you feeling yourself.
1. Stay rested.
Being aware of your sleep patterns and getting enough sleep is important to maintaining a healthy body and mindset.
2. Stay active.
While it may be tempting to stay warm under the covers instead of stepping outside for a brisk walk, depression preys on the sedentary. Exercising is not only healthy for your body, but it is healthy for your mind. If you don’t want to brave the cold, there are plenty of indoor exercises that will get your blood moving. You can try yoga, indoor group exercises, or even just taking a walk around the mall.
3. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Now is a great time of year to pull out that crockpot and try some new recipes to keep you warm and feeling your best. Whether you are trying a nice stew or a warm chili, aim to only use whole foods and refrain from including any processed ingredients in your dish. A healthy body is a healthy mind!
4. Enjoy some company.
Isolating yourself (especially in the winter months) can leave you feeling empty and lonely, even if you like to be alone. Keep in touch with your support system and have frequent get-togethers. Even if you simply stay in and watch a holiday film together, it is important to include others in your life to boost your accountability and strengthen your support system.
5. Give yourself something to get excited about.
Whether it a trip, a concert, or simply a family outing or dinner, make plans for something in the future to which you can look forward. Avoid anything that could be potentially stressful for you, but instead, plan something fun and enjoyable that won’t be a hassle for you when the time comes.
6. Get yourself organized.
Sometimes nothing can make you feel more stressed out, overwhelmed, and depressed than a messy home. Take a day to get those chores you’ve been putting off out of the way and reorganize any cluttered messes around the house. While it seems like a stressful chore, having an organized, clean environment can promote a healthy and happy mindset.
Find a new hobby. Whether it be knitting (what a perfect time to make a hat!), couponing, or teaching your pet some new tricks, find something in which you can invest yourself and stick with it. Many times depression can set in when you are simply bored, so finding new things to occupy your mind can help combat SAD.
7. Treat yourself.
Listen to your body and be aware of your mental health. If you need to take a day to reset, do it. Take a bubble bath, bake your favorite holiday treat, or whatever it is you do to unwind so that you can tackle the next day with a fresh mindset and a refreshed body.
8. Start your day with gratitude.
Whether you choose to do this in a journal or simply speak it when you wake up in the morning, start your day by choosing 3 things for which you are grateful. Try to think of new things that you are grateful for each day rather than reusing the same things each day. By starting the day with a grateful heart, you will start to establish an attitude of gratitude and a happy, healthy mind.
Know that we are always here to support you. If you are struggling with SAD and need to speak with someone about seeking treatment or counseling, we are here to help.
For more information about how you can combat SAD, contact Dr. Jamila Battle, M.D. today.