9 Ways to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder this Winter

Now that the hubbub of the holidays has passed, we’re faced with 12 more weeks of snow, ice and cold in some parts of the country.

You’re not alone if this type of weather has you feeling down or even depressed. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is, according to the Mayo Clinic, a “type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.” The Mood Disorders Association of Canada says that “some people experience powerful changes to the degree that it becomes a form of clinical depression.” Some symptoms of SAD can be oversleeping, low energy, weight gain, intense cravings for carbohydrates, withdrawal from social relationships and a depressed mood. If you feel like you are suffering from SAD, please don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. The following tips do not take the place of medical advice.

Here are some tips for getting through a long, cold winter:

1). Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D
Did you know that most multivitamins, for children and adults, don’t contain enough Vitamin D? I recommend talking to your pharmacist or someone knowledgeable at a natural health foods store and purchasing some Vitamin D drops. I also recommend taking Omega 3 supplements.

2.) Eat properly
Avoid refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. Opt for whole-grain carbs and delicious grain options like quinoa and brown rice. Eat more lean protein, and try to eat fish at least twice a week. Avoid alcohol, which is a depressant. Eat healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.

3.) Exercise regularly
The rush of endorphins you get from regular cardiovascular exercise will go a long way to offset those winter blues. Exercise at least three times a week, and more if you can! Try to enjoy winter — sample snowshoeing, downhill skiing or snowboarding, cross-country skiing or skating. Yoga is a great way to reconnect with your body and focus your mind. And if you can join a group exercise class, it’s a great way to get out of the house and get connected with others.

4.) Get enough sleep
Sleep is a huge deal. We need just the right amount for our bodies and minds to feel great. Experts disagree on what the ideal amount of sleep is, and I believe it varies from person to person.

5.) Meditate
Don’t underestimate the power of your imagination. Find a nice guided meditation (there are plenty of them online) that takes place on a tropical island, or beside a summer lake. I recommend “My Meditation Station” by Stin Hanson, which can be found through the Podcast app on your iPhone or iPad. Try to find time to meditate once a day. Prayer also counts as meditation!

6.) Invest in a light therapy lamp

Take a look online, read reviews and invest your money wisely. Use your unit as directed, and I believe you’ll feel a positive change. Make sure that you’re not on any medications that will give you a light sensitivity reaction.

7.) Travel
Don’t worry if you can’t afford to hop on a plane to Cuba. Just go to your local library! Check out a travel book or read a novel that takes place in a lush, warm location – anything that can take you away from the cold and into a new place, even if it’s just between the covers of a book.

8.) Get involved in your community
Join a group. Go to church! Even though it can be a pain to warm up your car, or take the bus to get where you need to go, feeling connected really helps. I take my daughter to a play group at least once a week, and we go to church on Sunday. In fact, just today in church I was reminded of the beauty and glory of winter.

9.) Above all, stay positive!
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22. “It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter.” Psalm 74:17. It might seem a long time away, winter will pass, and spring will come again.

Miranda Leybourne