As the days shorten in the winter, some of us get a case of the winter blues. It’s called seasonal affective disorder (SAD); a form of mild depression during the fall and winter that isn’t present other times of year. It’s estimated that some form of SAD affects about 25 percent of the population.
SAD can leave you feeling irritable and anxious while disrupting sleep and zapping energy. Feeling down can lead to emotional eating and rob you of the motivation to get moving. While light therapy and medication may be appropriate for severe cases, there are a few changes you can make to your daily routine that will help reduce the effects of SAD.
Let in the light.
Symptoms of SAD are linked to reduced sunlight due to shorter, cloudy days. Open blinds and curtains throughout your home to let in more light. Move your workspace to a room with the most windows. Sit close to windows whether you are dining out or reading a book at home. Take notice of bushes and trees that may block your windows from sunlight. Trim or remove those objects to improve the brightness of your environment.
Bundle up and get outside.
Despite gray skies, getting outside can brighten your mood and improve your attitude. Bundle up for a cold weather workout whenever possible. Take short breaks throughout the day to step outside and expose yourself to sunlight. Even a short 10 minute walk at lunch can help.
Stick to your workouts.
Studies show that regular exercise can benefit all forms of depression, including SAD. It can be challenging to overcome tiredness and feelings of sadness, but regular workouts help to relieve stress and anxiety. Improving your fitness brightens your mood and outlook, which can help offset the symptoms of SAD.