If it’s wintertime, then that means the seasonal blues are not that far away. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a serious mental health condition that leaves you feeling sad and depressed.
The cold winter months, with its shorter days and cold weather, keep you indoors longer. You feel cut off from others, and less motivated to do things that you typically enjoy. Even if you have struggled with SAD for a long time, there are ways that you can break this seasonal cycle.
These are simple techniques that you can do to feel better and chase those seasonal blues away.
Add Omega-3 to Your Diet
One way to improve your response to seasonal affective disorder is by adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Research suggests that Omega-3 may play a role in reducing depression. The reason why is that when you consume Omega-3 it can be absorbed easily by cells in the brain.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 is found in fish and fish oil, nuts, and certain oils. Check with a nutritionist about how much Omega-3 is right for you.
Exercise to Chase Those Blues Away
A tried-and-true method for chasing away seasonal affective disorder is exercising regularly. That’s because it has so many positive effects on your body. For example, exercise:
- Lowers your blood pressure.
- Improves your cardiovascular system.
- Releases serotonin and endorphins, which both influence your mood.
- Helps you focus on something else besides seasonal depression.
But what if you don’t regularly exercise and don’t know where to start? That’s okay! Start with something simple, such as walking regularly every day outside. If you decide you want more of a challenge, there are plenty of fitness apps and programs that you can do at home.
These are useful because they provide structure to your workouts, such as warmups, a challenging workout, and cooldowns. Make sure though to check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program.
Maintain Healthy Personal Relationships
One big issue with depression is that it is so isolating. It’s actually easier to isolate in winter when everyone spends more time inside. However, this also means it’s harder to have social connections with one another. But that shouldn’t stop you from having healthy personal relationships.
Mobile phones have become a powerful tool for communication. You can text, email, receive updates through messaging apps, video chat, and even make phone calls (remember those?). However, mobile phones can also amplify depression when it comes to social media. If you use social media, do so sparingly and balance it out with other in-person communication.
Medication When Appropriate
When seasonal depression gets to be difficult to manage through lifestyle changes, it may be appropriate to consider medication. Depression medication may be just the edge you need to get things back on track.
Medication isn’t meant to control you or make you feel any different from who you are. Instead, it helps you to gain some clarity so you can make better decisions about your health. Medication is useful in helping you to absorb the lessons learned in therapy, too. That way you can put into action what you have learned more quickly.
Seasonal affective disorder, if left untreated, is a terrible condition to endure year-after-year. However, you don’t have to spend every winter struggling through depression. Diet, exercise, and healthy personal relationships go a long way towards canceling out the effects of SAD. However, when it feels like things are getting out of hand, medication can also help.
If you are experiencing SAD, contact us to learn more about depression counseling, 256-686-9195.