- Mental Health
10 Things to do to Prevent SAD
If you live in a cold place, you have probably felt SAD at some point in your life. I capitalize it because it means seasonal affective disorder, which are episodes of depression that happen usually at winter time. Long winters, less sun light, cold body temperature and hormones all contribute to SAD. People who feel SAD will have less energy, an increased appetite, feel slow and sluggish and have a loss of interest in work, as well as social activities. I am writing this article because last year I moved from sunny Southern California to the mountains of Utah, where we got our last snowfall in July and our first snowfall in October, meaning we had about three months of summer.
1. Get outside every day. It may not be sunny but the effects of of daylight can still help boost your mood. Smelling the fresh air and absorbing the vitamin D will help you feel better.
2. Eat colorful foods. I'm not talking about foods that have been artificially colored. I'm talking about fruits and vegetables. Vegetables like broccoli or asparagus contain energizing B vitamins and magnesium. Peaches are an excellent fruit to eat in the winter because of the high levels of potassium. When you lack potassium, you often feel fatigue, heaviness and poor memory, which can all contribute to SAD.
3. Exercise daily. Exercise produces endorphins, which is a feel-good hormone. Maintain an intensity that you consider somewhat hard to hard or between 65% to 80% of your max heart rate to feel the effects of endorphins.
4. Try a new sport. Snowshoeing is a low-impact, safe sport that anyone can try. Cross-country skiing is a another great sport that's made for everyone. If you haven't tried skiing or snowboarding, make this the year that you're going to do it.
5. Get enough sleep in the dark. We have heard over and over that our bedrooms should be completely dark at night but it is even more important to follow this rule if you are SAD. Darkness will help your body produce the right amount of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which can help regulate your mood and energy throughout the day.
6. Join a book club. The winter time is a perfect time to spend a little more time reading the books you enjoy. And joining a book club will encourage you to take part in activities outside your home.
7. Treat yourself to a spa day. Enjoy the heat elements of the spa like a jacuzzi or the steam room. Get a body treatment that incorporates algae or mud to help revitalize the body.
8. Try a hot yoga class. Hot yoga is done in a room that is heated. Some classes are hotter than others so find one that you like. I enjoy doing hot yoga because it helps me sweat out the toxins in my body and reminds me of being in California. Yoga is also great to help reduce stress and calm the mind.
9. Take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D deficiency is common among individuals who live in cold places due to the lack of sunny days. Ask your doctor what is the right amount for you. But adding a vitamin D supplement can increase your mood and help you feel better.
10. Volunteer. During the winter months it's crucial to stay involved in activities outside your home and volunteering will help you meet new friends, get involved in worthy causes and give you the satisfaction of impacting someone else's life in a positive way. Those who volunteer also have lower rates of depression than those who don't volunteer.