Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder: Proven Tips and Strategies
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more than just the “winter blues.” It’s a form of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, usually in the winter, when daylight hours are shorter. If you find yourself struggling with symptoms like feelings of sadness, decreased energy, and irritability during the colder months, you may be dealing with SAD. Here are some proven scientific ways to beat seasonal affective disorder.
How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder: Tips and Strategies
Physical activity is a powerful tool against SAD. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It can also help you sleep better, which is crucial when you’re dealing with depression. Try indoor activities like yoga or treadmill running. If you’re up for it, outdoor activities like skiing or snowshoeing can also be beneficial. The key is to find an exercise program that you enjoy and stick with it.
Light therapy has been shown to be effective in treating SAD. This involves sitting in front of a seasonal affective disorder lamp, also known as a light therapy box, that emits a bright light (minus harmful UV rays). Many health professionals recommend sitting in front of a 10,000-lux light box for about 30 minutes each morning.
Isolation can make SAD symptoms worse. It can be helpful to create social situations that can help lift your spirits. Whether it’s a weekly dinner with friends or a regular video call with family, social interaction can provide the emotional support you need to get through the tough months.
Check Your Vitamin D Levels
Consider asking your medical care team to check your vitamin D levels. A deficiency in this important nutrient can exacerbate your symptoms. If you’re low on vitamin D, supplements may be advised.
Balanced Diet and Sleep
Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help manage SAD symptoms. Getting enough sleep is also essential, as poor sleep can worsen your symptoms and affect your mood.
If your symptoms persist or worsen, it may be time to seek professional help. Therapists can provide seasonal affective disorder treatments such as coping strategies, lifestyle changes, or medication. Consider seeking out a psychotherapist who can help you explore and process your feelings in a healthy way.
How You Can Help Young People With SAD
SAD can be especially difficult for vulnerable populations like pre-teens and teens. If you’re a parent or teen with insights on SAD from your own journey with it, you can help countless others by sharing your own tips and strategies online as well as reviews of mental health facilities and providers.
Help Teens Experiencing SAD With ReGroup Foundation
ReGroup Foundation is a non-profit that helps neurodiverse and neurotypical pre-teens, teens, and their families anonymously share and benefit from mental health success stories. Too often, the best resources and practices in teen mental health care remain under the radar. We want all families to benefit from the triumphs of those who have been there, done that. We make this possible by collecting family reviews of local mental health caregivers and facilities as well as personal strategies for helping teens recover from wellness challenges like SAD.
We’ve shared a few strategies for coping with SAD. Have you found any of your own that you’d like to share on our Strategies page? In only 15 minutes, you can begin making a world of difference in the lives of other teens impacted by SAD and their families — just by anonymously sharing your successes. Register today and start sharing your reviews and mental health insights!