Lifestyle Blog

Feeling SAD? Here’s How to Cope

Fitness, General Health, Life Balance, Mental Health, Sleep



Spring is so close we can almost taste it! With it comes longer days, which can be especially beneficial for the five percent of Americans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Yet, as Julie Frumin, LMFT and CHLI Life Balance expert, notes, the springtime change can be just as challenging for SAD patients as the time change in the fall. She says, “Having to get up for work an hour earlier, in the dark, does not necessarily offset the benefit of having an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day.”

Having a plan to manage SAD symptoms can help you get through the time change so you can enjoy the rest of spring.

What is SAD?

Our bodies operate by an internal clock, also called a circadian rhythm. We feel awake when the sun is out and get tired when it goes away. In the winter, when the skies are grayer and the nights are longer, our bodies get thrown off from our natural rhythms. For millions of people, the result is lingering depression.

SAD symptoms can range from mild to debilitating and even life-threatening. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Inability to sit still
  • Sleeping more often than usual
  • Having feelings of being unworthy
  • Feeling sad most of the time
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling more hungry and craving carbohydrates
  • Loss of energy, no matter how much you sleep
  • Difficulty focusing or making decisions
  • Considering death or suicide

What to Do if You Have SAD

You can do many things to feel better when you have SAD, especially as winter comes to a close. Talking to a doctor can help to rule out other causes and ensure you get the best treatment.

Get some vitamin D

Because vitamin D comes from the sun, it’s common for people to become deficient during the winter months. A supplement can help you get the amount you need to increase your energy.

Light therapy

This involves being near a light-emitting device for a set amount of time, usually in the morning. Some people may have adverse effects, so talk to your doctor before trying it.

Avoid carbs

Your mood and energy levels can drop when you carbo-load, thanks to the sudden changes in glucose. Embrace natural, whole foods instead of carbs.

Use a dawn simulator

Buy a dawn simulator to slowly increase the light in your bedroom in the morning to help you wake up more naturally.

Exercise

It might be the last thing you want to do, but even 10 minutes of brisk exercise can boost your serotonin levels and help you feel happier.

Laugh

Put on a funny movie or call your favorite funny friend. Laughing can improve your mood almost instantly.

Get outside

Even on cloudy days, you will still get more sunlight by stepping outside than staying in. This can help you regain serotonin levels.

Ease into Fitness this Spring

Even though spring might signal the end of many SAD symptoms, Frumin notes that “It’s important to take your depressive symptoms seriously. Prepare for the time change early, so you can minimize the effects it has on your mental and physical health.”

Stepping outside for some gentle fitness can be a great way to lift your mood. Ease into fitness this spring in a calming outdoor setting with CHLI. Our March fitness schedule  has classes for all levels and abilities. Join us as we welcome this new season of renewal and regeneration.