Monday, November 14, 2016

The Rising Tide of Winter

As the days to the holidays flash by and the sunlight decreases at 5:30PM, many people face the assault of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Around 5-20% of people (depending on the level of severity) struggle with S.A.D. and the negative repercussions of this depression.

Could I have seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

If some of these feelings seem to happen each year, have a real impact on your life, and improve during certain seasons, talk to your doctor, you may have seasonal affective disorder.
  1. I feel like sleeping all the time, or I’m having trouble getting a good night’s sleep
  2. I’m tired all the time, it makes it hard for me to carry out daily tasks
  3. My appetite has changed, particularly more cravings for sugary and starchy foods
  4. I’m gaining weight
  5. I feel sad, guilty and down on myself
  6. I feel hopeless
  7. I’m irritable
  8. I’m avoiding people or activities I used to enjoy
  9. I feel tense and stressed
  10. I’ve lost interest in sex and other physical contact

Of course other deficiencies or circumstances can impact these issues as well. If your situation improves with the time change and longer hours of sunlight, you could have S.A.D. If you are woman, your chances are much higher; 3 out of 4 sufferers are women (helpguide).

But, you don't have to be helpless. 

1. Get outside as much as possible: take advantage of the sunlight when it's present.

2. Exercise: if it's too cold to get outside, invest in a used stationary bike or utilize youtube videos. Get a punching bag; buy a winter membership to a gym.

3. Take time to have fun and develop a new interest/project to get you through the winter. Be around people who have a positive attitude and can make you laugh. Try to engage and respond in like.

4. Eliminate sugar: Saying "no" to sugary carbs is especially challenging during the holidays, but sugar has been proven to increase depression. So, limit yourself. Consider the 90/10% rule when confronted with sweet choices.

5. Use light therapy: You can get on Amazon and find an affordable "happy light" that imitates the rays of the sun and increases serotonin levels. This is similar to the one given to me a few years ago.

If these techniques don't help, see your healthcare provider: something more could be at play. 

Remember, winter only lasts a few months: spring will come again. So, stay on the treadmill and keep moving (literally and figuratively). 😊 Choose today to smile, even if you don't feel like it. 

(Disclaimer: As most of my readers know, I wouldn't be myself if I didn't acknowledge my own struggle. Over the last two years, my wrestling with S.A.D. has greatly improved since I've been put on thyroid medication, but I'd be a hypocrite if I said, "I do all these things!"  I'm failing in most of them right now. But, as always, I write to encourage myself toward the truth too, even if I'm "not there yet." Be blessed and remember I'm here if you want to share your winter blues with a sympathetic ear. Feel free to share your own tips for coping with S.A.D.)

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