10 Ways to Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder

November 1st, 2015

For most of us who work the 9-to-5, fall and winter kind of stinks. Sure, the autumn leaves are nice, and the holidays are spectacular. But let’s face it: Nothing spells depressing like a long day at the office followed by … darkness … and a long commute home in said darkness.

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Early nights are upon us – and it presents a problem for a majority of our country’s working-class citizens.

For most of us who work the 9-to-5, fall and winter kind of stinks. Sure, the autumn leaves are nice, and the holidays are spectacular. But let’s face it: Nothing spells depressing like a long day at the office followed by … darkness … and a long commute home in said darkness.

Instead of letting SAD set in – Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression related to seasonal changes: starting with fall and lasting into the winter months – there are many ways to avoid, or at least lessen, the accompanying symptoms of moodiness, lack of energy and motivation, and especially the melancholia.

Here are 10 ways to avoid the “Winter Blues” the natural way:

1) Eat Healthy.

The essence of your being depends on the nutrients you put into your body – through the foods you eat. Your body takes a beating this time of the year, with all the sitting, the darkness and holiday feasting – so eat well! Your body needs plenty of fruits and veggies, white meats, oats and grains to stay healthy. Be sure to moderate sweets, also abandoning processed meats and cheeses. Drink alcohol in moderation, as well. Your body – including your brain – will thank you. Foods, like salmon, have natural mood-enhancing properties.

2) Set Goals – and Fulfill Them.

Set a goal, finish it – and you will feel great about yourself, with a renewed sense of empowerment, too. This helps you feel happy. Start small: maybe an early-evening dinner (rather than a late one) every night for a week, or make your own lunch rather than going out. You feel good about yourself and about your life, and also more confident and in control. This translates to a feeling of wellbeing.

3) Get Some Outside Time!

Your body needs vitamin D. The benefits of those summer rays are long gone. Your spirit elevates when you’re outside breathing the fresh air, being part of nature. Life is stressful, so steal away each day to the local park for some you-time.

4) Early to Bed, Early to Rise.

Next time you’re bored, read about Circadian Rhythms – the natural way our bodies function in accordance to the day’s hours. It explains hormonal releases (ever wondered why people are more prone to heart attacks at night?), and how the hours of the day and our daily habits affect our moods.

5) Be Active!

Even light exercise is uplifting, not just because it helps work off stress; exercise also releases neurotransmitters that relax you and make you feel happy. It’s proven. Just do it!

6) Hobbies, Hobbies, Hobbies.

Countless studies show working with your hands can ward off depression. Energy is a major aspect of our lives, so put it toward something fun, something useful; maybe a hobby such as sewing, painting, growing plants, making something beautiful – just do something! Don’t just sit and watch TV. WORK on something. Anything! Remember: It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey – the process.

7) Be Social – Not a Recluse!

It’s scientifically proven that being around other people gets those happy-going neurotransmitters, like serotonin, dopamine and others, really moving! Volunteer, go for walks with friends, establish a book club, meet at cafés and talk about anything and everything. You will see a difference in your mood.

8) Learn Something New (Give Your Brain a Workout).

It’s going to be a long, cold winter. So don’t just sit around and feel bad about yourself. Learn that language you’ve always wanted to learn. Write that book that you’ve been dying to write for years! Learn to play an instrument! Give your brain some exercise. Your brain needs to be worked like a muscle, the say, and working it every day prevents it from deteriorating.

9) Work on Making Good Habits.

Strong, positive mental habits make for a happy person. When you start your day with gratitude and positive visualization, it lasts for the rest of the day. Imagine good things happening, and literally SEE them happening. On the way to work, find gratitude in being healthy, in having a job in the first place, in having a way to survive. Again, focus that mental energy on what matters: being mindful, grateful and optimistic.

10) Read and Write – It Really Helps.

Seeing your thoughts transform from little symbols that we call letters to words is quite magical. We often take it for granted. But when you read and write, our minds are focusing on thought and action. And journaling can often help you sort through your negative emotions, in turn showing you patterns and areas of improvement. Writing also makes one mindful, in the moment so to speak; and with mindfulness comes an appreciation for every single, beautiful, fleeting moment.

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