Mental Health Ireland defines ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or ‘SAD’ as a form of depression that is estimated to affect approximately one in fifteen people between September and April. Experts contend that SAD is caused by seasonal changes which disrupt the circadian rhythm: the 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during sleeping and waking hours, causing us to feel energized and alert sometimes and drowsy at other times. With the depths of winter settling in, we provide some tips to combat SAD.
These specially designed lights can be bought which are designed to mimic outdoor light. These help improve mood and ease other symptoms of the ‘winter blues’. Experts recommend that you buy a lightbox which is a minimum of 10,000 lux and use it for 30 minutes every morning. You’ll also want to make sure the light filters out UV rays, which can be harmful to your eyes!
Aromatherapy involves therapeutic treatment that uses essential oils to promote physical and emotional well-being. Since aromatherapy doesn’t require much time, it is a perfect way to incorporate a feeling of wellness during the bleakest months of the year. Essential oils stimulate the nerve endings of the olfactory bulb at the back of the nose. The nerve endings stimulate the limbic system, which is the part of the brain associated with the most primal human instincts: memories and emotions. Some oil blends which can get you started are bergamot, citrus or lavender.
Regularly getting out there and increasing your heart rate with exercise is great for body and mind. Exercise stimulates the “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain, it may promote the growth of brain cells, or it may simply have a meditative effect. When combining this with light is a sure fire way to battle SAD.
Stick to Routine
People suffering from SAD often have issues getting to sleep and getting up in the morning. If a regular sleep routine is observed, sleep is improved and can alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression. Sticking to a schedule will also ensure that you are exposed to light at consistent and predictable times. In addition, eating at regular times can help you watch your diet and avoid overeating.
One great way to combat SAD is to start the winter with goals and an ideal schedule. Regular work or projects outside of your 9-5 can keep you motivated and provide a sense of accomplishment when dreary weather sets in. Try cooking new recipes, scrapbooking or sorting out a cluttered wardrobe!