10 ways to avoid seasonal affective disorder

Every year around this time, Seasonal Affect Disorder {SAD} settles into the hearts and minds of many.

I said goodnight to the sun at 4:00pm this week.
The winter is long and the days are short.
The conditions for SAD are ripe.

Feeling energetically drained?
Moody?
Hypersensitive?
Avoiding others?
Feeling fatigued?
Unmotivated?
Winter blues?
Need a drink at the end of the day?
Blowing off your workouts?
Watching too much TV?

The season may be messing with your serotonin, melatonin, and circadian rhythm. SAD may be setting in.

In the past I too could feel myself sinking a little lower when the days got shorter.

Here are 10 things you can do to help protect yourself from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is super important for mental and physical health. Vitamin D is linked to depression, cognitive performance, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, immune system functioning, cancer, respiratory infection, inflammation, blood pressure. In Calgary, where I live, most people are Vitamin D deficient and don’t even know it. Make sure you’re getting your D.

Light

Many of my clients use light therapy on darker days to get a dose of good rays. Carve out thirty minutes to sit in front of a 10,000 lux light box to help boost your mood and protect your mind.

Exercise

Get your heart working to help ward of depressive feelings. Go for a quick walk, do some jumping jacks, greet the day with a sun salutation, take the stairs, strap on some ice cleats and go for a sunrise run, park further away, put on your favorite tunes and get your groove on. Every little bit counts — thirty minutes a day five days a week is ideal.

Omega 3

The feel good neurotransmitters can be regulated by Omega 3 to help optimize your winter happiness. Because I’m a vegetarian, I get mine through flaxseed and walnut oil but a good fish oil will give you a hefty dose too.

Nature

Have you seen Grounded? If they can get outside in Alaska and transform their health, surely we can add a little nature into our life. Be brave. Dress warm. Go outside.

Social.

Join a book club, say yes to the invitation, sign up for a yoga retreat, invite your soul sisters over for a tea-tasting party. Resist the urge to isolate and become a hermit. We are wired for connection. It soothes our nervous system and adds to our happiness.

Nourish.

I love eating salads in the summer, but when winter comes just thinking about eating a salad makes me cold. Nourish your body in warm, whole, healthy ways. Soups. Stews. Teas. By consciously nourishing your body you can avoid binging on food that will mess up your brain chemistry and make you feel gross.

Sleep.

Get into a sleep routine. Make it sacred. Stick to it. My routine {usually} includes cuddling with my boys, bedtime stories, a candlelit bath with a book of poetry, a super dark room, heavy blankets and sleeping by 9:00pm. You know how much sleep you need. Get it. It’s one of the kindest gifts you can give yourself.

Change.

If you can change your scenery, do it. Go somewhere warm. Take a few days off work and have a stay-cation dedicated to your wellbeing.

Love.

Yourself. Self-love is a necessity if SAD is setting in. Look in the mirror and appreciate every little bit of you. Get a massage or give yourself a massage. Practice radical self-acceptance. Treat yourself to a set of flannel onsie pajamas. Love yourself and do what you love – read the books you love, meet with the people you love, pursue the hobbies you love.

Connection.

You are not alone. Many people struggle with SAD. Reach out. Find a support group. Share your truth.