You’ve probably heard that depression is common, but many don’t realize that seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, affects millions of people each year. SAD is a subtype of major depressive disorder that occurs in response to changes in seasons and sunlight exposure. Although there isn’t a cure for this condition, there are ways you can reduce its symptoms—and improve your overall mood—by making small changes in your daily routine.
Sunlight and Vitamin D
Sunlight is an essential factor when it comes to maintaining your health and mood. Exposure to sunlight can help improve mood by helping the brain produce higher serotonin levels than on dark and cloudy days. Going outside and getting exposure to sunlight can go a long way when battling seasonal depression.
You may consider taking vitamin D supplements if you’re not getting enough sunlight. Vitamin D is a hormone that the body produces when it’s exposed to sunlight that helps regulate calcium absorption. It can also be found in some foods, but not always at high enough levels to meet all of your needs through diet alone.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to seasonal depression symptoms like irritability and fatigue. If you’re worried about being deficient in vitamin D, talk with your doctor about your mental health concerns and ask for a recommendation on whether taking supplements can benefit you. Vitamin D supplements can be bought over the counter at most local grocery stores and pharmacies.
One of the best ways to combat seasonal depression is by engaging in self-care. Self-care involves activities that nourish your mind and body, allowing you to feel more relaxed, happy, and in control.
Some examples of self-care include:
- Taking a bath or going for a walk outside
- Listening to music that makes you feel good
- Eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep
Self-care is a meaningful way to regulate your mood and avoid burnout. If you’ve been working too hard, be sure to take some time for yourself and balance your work life with your social life. Practicing self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Just take moments for yourself to relax and check in on your mental health to ensure you’re taking care of yourself first.
Exercise Is Key
Exercise is a great way to help regulate your mood and boost positive brain chemicals when struggling with seasonal depression.
- Exercise can help you release endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that make you less depressed.
- Exercising regularly can also improve your sleep, another factor in seasonal depression.
- Many people find that exercise helps them feel more positive about their lives and the world around them.
Try yoga or swimming if they’re activities that sound appealing to you—make sure to do some physical activity every day to get the maximum benefit. Most doctors recommend getting at least half an hour of exercise daily, but you’ll see that even five minutes of activity can help you feel better. Make exercise a crucial part of your daily routine to feel the long-term benefits.
Medication may be a good option if you feel like depression is interfering with your life. Many different options are available for medications that can help you with everything from focus to general mood stabilization. These medications are created after long hours of research and complex clinical trial service from the most reliable manufacturers, so you can depend on quality medications to help you better your mental health. Groups like Avantor help research labs with “end-to-end service capabilities” to develop effective medications for the millions of people who struggle with depression every year.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about the potential side effects of these medications to determine if that’s the right option for you. Remember, these medications don’t cure SAD, but they can significantly help with the symptoms and regulate your mood so you can get back to everyday life.
Journaling and Therapy
For many people, writing things down can help them get their thoughts organized and their feelings out. If you’re struggling with seasonal depression or just feeling bummed out, why not try journaling?
When journaling, it’s essential to be honest about how you feel without being harsh or judgmental. Writing is an activity that allows us to let go of our inner critic and focus on what’s happening within ourselves instead of trying to edit ourselves before we write anything down. The idea is not only to get your thoughts on paper but also to take time away from them, so they don’t keep running through your head throughout the day.
If journaling isn’t enough for you, consider the benefits of therapy. Talking things out with someone non-judgemental and trustworthy can be a great way to work through your feelings. Therapists will often recommend journaling exercises to help you organize your thoughts. The therapist may also recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing unhealthy thought processes that lead to negative emotions and behaviors. Talk therapy, cognitive therapy, and journaling are great options for anyone seeking help with SAD.
Remember, there is no cure for seasonal depression, but there are things you can do every day that helps you manage your symptoms and feelings. Try incorporating these activities into your daily routine, and you will start seeing the benefits.