The symptoms associated with SAD are wide-ranging, but they include feeling listless, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, appetite changes, anxiety or irritability, and many others. These feelings cause us to lose connection with ourselves and the people we love, but there are ways we can fight back. In this article, we will learn more about SAD and three steps you can take to avoid the stresses it causes.
How to Avoid SAD This Winter
1) Get Outside
One of the best ways to avoid seasonal depression is by immersing yourself in the outdoors. As we age, it is important to seek out opportunities to experience nature and get active outside, as these occasions become more and more difficult to find as time goes on.
This doesn’t have to be running or working out in the hot sun. It could look like an evening stroll or sitting out on your porch in the morning. The key is seeking out these opportunities and pursuing them intently. By connecting with nature, we feel a greater sense of gratitude and remind ourselves of our place in the world.
This understanding and perspective, provided by nature, is the exact type of stimulation needed to ward off SAD and other forms of seasonal depression. So as you age, remind yourself to step out into the sun and soak up its rays.
For those looking for a more focused solution to SAD, various therapies exist to avoid onset and help mitigate symptoms of seasonal depression. These treatments include light therapy, talk therapy, and medication.
Light therapy has been used since the early 1980s to help alleviate the symptoms of SAD. It was discovered when researchers noticed that exposure to bright, artificial lights could help someone’s body clock get back in sync.
This treatment is performed by asking patients to remain seated in front of a box that emits light for at least thirty minutes every morning. While many patients swear by their light treatment, it is important to note that this type of therapy does not work for everyone. You should consult your personal physician before beginning this type of treatment, and also make yourself aware of other therapy like talk therapy.
Talk therapy may be a better choice for you if you enjoy the comfort of others and if you like communicating in social settings. One type of talk therapy that has gained attention for its use on those who are experiencing seasonal affective disorder is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. This treatment attempts to address unproductive thoughts and behaviors.
Like with light therapy, this type of treatment is not a golden bullet for dealing with hard months, but it could be a good fit for you. Having someone to motivate you, provide advice, and listen when things are hard can be the difference between a great season and a difficult one.
The last therapy we will look at is medication. Some studies indicate that the best way to treat SAD may simply be by using antidepressant medication. These medicines help to regulate brain activity and balance certain neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotions.
This may not be the solution for everyone, but with the consent of a physician, an anti depression medication prescription could be used this winter.
3) Lifestyle Changes
We are our choices, so they say, and this advice might be more true than ever when it comes to fighting off SAD. Research into the causes of seasonal affective disorder sheds light on the lifestyle choices that can be made to avoid depression or to quiet its effects.
As we talked about, getting outside and being in nature is a great way to stay fit and positive, but there is even more you can do. Eating a balanced diet consisting of three healthy meals not only promotes strong physical health but has been linked to strong emotional and mental stability.
Another lifestyle practice you can work into your schedule to inhibit the onset of SAD is brain-stimulating activities. Whether it is doing a crossword puzzle, reading a book, or drawing a picture, activities that engage the brain help keep us busy and act as a source of inspiration and motivation in our daily lives.
Each of these lifestyle changes is completely customizable. The great thing about this approach is that you get to decide what it looks like, and we are challenging you to explore yourself and see what is going to work best for you and your situation.
4) Ask for Help!
Getting older is hard, and as routines fall into place and days meld together, it can be difficult to find meaning and purpose. However, the data highlights how a shifting perspective, targeted therapies, and lifestyle changes can help to offset the symptoms of SAD.
We encourage you to go out into nature and make lifestyle choices that help you to live a happy and healthy life. Most importantly, we want to clearly state: It is okay to ask for help. Including family, friends, and health care providers on your journey against SAD is one of the best ways to receive support and find treatment.
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