What to Do if You’re Struggling with SAD

Seasonal affective disorder is thought to affect 10 million Americans when the cold weather and dark evenings roll around, with another 10 to 20 percent of the population experiencing a milder form of the mental illness. And they truly suffer. Symptoms range from weight gain, irritability and fatigue to hopelessness and thoughts of suicide in the most extreme cases. If any of these describe you or someone you know, it’s time to take action.

The secret is self-care. You’ve heard this buzzword before, but may not know what it means. In a basic sense, it’s looking after your own well-being through diet, exercise, sleep and simply enjoying life rather than just getting by. Here’s a closer look at specific practices that can help sufferers overcome their symptoms of SAD.

Eat the Right Foods

There’s no denying the link between diet and mental health, as it’s been demonstrated though numerous scientific studies. That still leaves the question as to what to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Excess sugar is out, while healthy fats, lean protein and lots of vegetables are definitely in.

Get Physical

For starters, exercise releases endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals in your brain that serve as motivation for staying fit and healthy, and that’s just the beginning. Increased blood flow also gives your mood a lift while helping to safeguard against feelings of anxiety, making it an important part of any therapy efforts.

Establish a Sleep Routine

Oversleeping and undersleeping can have disastrous effects on your mental health, whereas the right amount of quality slumber does wonders for your mood as well as your energy levels throughout the day. Make sure you get enough by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Go Outside

There is some sunlight shining down from the sky, just less of it as the days grow shorter and the nights longer. Take in as much of it as you can, even if it’s by taking a walk in the park during your lunch break. Doing so will stimulate the production of vitamin D in your skin, which is vital to healthy brain function and feeling positive overall.

Try Light Therapy

Light therapy a great way to supplement sunlight when you’re stuck inside. Many people implement a dawn simulator into their morning routine, which is a lamp that brightens up gradually when it’s time to wake up, much like the rising sun. Other options include a light box that you sit in front of for 30 minutes to an hour each day.

Take Up a Hobby

Whether you choose to spend your free time writing, playing music or taking photos, a hobby will take your mind off of whatever’s troubling you at work or at home. That can be greatly therapeutic, resulting in lower levels of stress and anxiety while leading to greater feelings of fulfillment. 

Start Meditating

Meditation has grown immensely popular over the past few decades as practitioners have discovered how it relieves stress and stamps out many symptoms of mental illness. There are many different variations of this ancient art, though a writer with Health explains 11 that work best when it comes to depression.

Find Some Pleasure

Sometimes, all you need to bring back hope is a good time. That could be something as simple as a having coffee with friends, indulging in a massage or just getting a haircut. What’s more, these activities get you out of the house, which may be just what you need.


Hopefully, these measures are enough for you or someone you care about to overcome SAD symptoms, and maybe even smile and laugh from time to time. After all, there’s so much to enjoy in the world, even though it is a bit chilly.

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