8 Ways to Kick Seasonal Affective Disorder's Butt
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Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of mild depression many people suffer from during the winter months. It’s now classified as a common disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Luckily, it’s also very treatable. Here are a few things you can do if you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD:
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Get More Light
It’s believed that SAD is directly related to light – or rather, lack thereof. For the person experiencing SAD in the winter months, cloud cover and limited sunlight is an issue. Look for ways to get more light into your day. If you can, purchase a light box and sit across from it while engaging in reading or some other pleasurable activity such as listening to classical music or any other type of music you enjoy. A light box has to be used as compared to a regular bulb because the full spectrum of light it emits is similar to sunlight.
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Take a Walk
Take walks on a regular basis. Walking towards a destination is healthier and more positive than exercising in a closed room. Also, the combination of natural light and exercise can boost your mood.
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Be outdoors more often. Even though it’s colder in the winter months, being in nature is very therapeutic and beneficial for the human body. Bundle up and spend more time outside.
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Do Some Exercise
If you really can’t get outside, use any type of physical activity or exercise indoors. Yoga, aerobics, dancing and strength training are all good examples. Research shows just 20 minutes a day can help to combat depressive symptoms.
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Do things you really like doing. Carve time out of your schedule to make time for you and engage in a positive activity in an effort to increase the serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is believed to be associated with feelings of happiness and well-being.
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Increase Your Tryptophan
Serotonin is chemically derived from Tryptophan in your body. Spirulina, which is taken from seaweed, contains a good amount of tryptophan. Use a teaspoon or less of this powder in your smoothies. Spinach, turkey and sesame seeds are all high on the list of foods with the most tryptophan.
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Have a Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine. The more you laugh, the better you can feel. Laughter relaxes your body, and it also triggers the release of feel good chemicals called endorphins in your body. This in turn can give a boost to your immune system and increase blood flow throughout your body. Watch a comedy show, read and tell jokes and laugh therapeutically.
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See Your Friends
Spend time with friends and loved ones who make you happy. Socialization with people you feel safe around can help boost positive feelings.
Read this over and repeat. The human brain needs repetition, thinking, processing and doing before habits are formed.
If your symptoms have you feeling very helpless and hopeless, please seek help from a medical professional, and remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.