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How to Feel Less SAD During the Winter Months

If you find yourself feeling down, here are six things you can do to reduce the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
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As we continue through the winter months, it’s a good time to check in and find out if you are feeling SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, impacts millions of people during the winter months. As the days shorten, many individuals suffer from feelings of depression and lethargy. As a busy healthcare professional who may be working 12-hour shifts, finding the time to get out into the little bit of sunshine available proves to be a challenging task. If you find yourself feeling lethargic, here are six things you can do to reduce the symptoms and feel less SAD.

  • Exercise/Be Active. Even if you can only fit in 10 or 15 minutes a day, the boost you can get by generating serotonin and endorphins through exercise will help you feel better and boost your energy.
  • Find Sunshine. While not always easy to do in the winter or during work, getting outside while the sun is shining is one of the simplest ways to combat SAD feelings. If you can, take time in the noon hour to walk around the block while the sun is at its brightest.
  • Boost Your Vitamin D. Lower levels of vitamin D have been linked to SAD and depression in general for years. You may find that all you need is a vitamin D supplement to get you back on the right track. 
  • Light Therapy Boxes. Available at most of your favorite retail stores, a Light Therapy Box emits a bright light that mimics sunshine and helps eliminate the symptoms of SAD. All it takes is 30 minutes per day to stimulate your natural circadian rhythms. The most effective time for light therapy is after you first wake up in the morning. Sounds like a nice accompaniment to your morning coffee.
  • Dawn Simulators. Similar to a light box, a dawn simulator will gradually assist your process of waking up by producing a light that gradually increases in intensity, much like the sunrise. A study published in 2015 found dawn simulators to be as effective as light therapy for mild SAD symptoms.
  • Aromatherapy. Many people treat their seasonal disorder with essential oils that are known to influence areas of the brain that control your body clock and moods. One of the most popular essential oils is lavender oil that helps reduce anxiety and depression while promoting a sense of well-being. Another commonly used natural treatment for these symptoms are oils from the poplar tree, as published in a 2015 study.

Different treatments work for different people, but the most important take away is to never ignore your feelings of depression or lethargy. Anytime you are dealing with more than a minor case of the winter blues, make sure you talk to your doctor and discuss the best course of treatment.