Cold days and long nights are upon us, and as the winter weather sets in so does SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, SAD can wreak some major havoc on your life during the cold months.
A few facts about SAD:
SAD is a form of depression.
Usually, depressive episodes begin in the autumn or winter and fall off in the spring.
SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans, and it affects four times more women than men.
SAD symptoms may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Hypersomnia or a tendency to oversleep
- A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
- A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
- A drop in energy level
- Decreased physical activity
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Avoidance of social situations
If you’ve noticed an uptick in these symptoms during the winter in the past, this may be the year to proactively plan things to help you alleviate these symptoms. Some things that have helped me are:
- Planning pleasurable activities
- Buuuuuut… also declining invitations if I need to stay home and rest
- Getting extra sleep. My body takes less sunlight and warmth as a cue to sleep more.
- Buuuuuut… I still need to get enough physical activity, so I plan some easier workouts or try something new indoors.
- Using a sunlight lamp, this is specially designed to mimic UV rays. My favorite thing is my sunlight alarm clock, which brings up the light along with an audible alarm. Then I run around turning on lights until my body accepts that it really is morning.
- Planning nourishing meals that don’t take too much work. Your slow cooker or pressure cooker can be your best friend this winter!
- Taking time to nourish and replenish myself. Take a long bath. Wrap up in a cozy robe and binge Netflix. Get some good smelling candles and hand cream. Treat yo’self!
- Prioritize my mental and physical health, and say no to anything that doesn’t serve ME. Yes, this may include family holiday commitments, impassioned pleas from the PTA, and other things I want to say yes to. Make sure it’s worth it.
- Keep tabs on my mood and energy level. There are some great phone apps for mood tracking, or you can kick it old school by writing in a notebook or journal.
- Let my best friends and closest family know what’s going on. Get a buddy who can check on you. Make a list of the things that make you feel better, and entrust it to a couple trusted people who can help you get started on something that will help. This may sound stupid, but having that accountability to someone makes you feel less isolated and makes it easier to ask for something when you are in crisis mode. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- Finally, if you start to feel hopeless and/or suicidal, talk to a doctor right away. Sometimes, SAD is just too severe to handle without pharmaceuticals.
Please stay safe and healthy this winter!
<3 The Insurance Nerd