Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that is typically at its worst during the winter season. Many individuals will experience worsening symptoms of SAD due to a lack of natural sunlight, though stress levels and even genetics can also influence the condition. Fortunately, our therapists at Comprehensive Counseling LCSW have a few suggestions on how patients can manage their symptoms during these gloomy days!
Light Therapy Products
Even if you can’t make the sunshine a little brighter, you most certainly can purchase more light fixtures. There are several types of light therapy devices on the market specifically for mimicking the effects of natural sunlight, and approximately 30 minutes a day is all most people need to achieve noticeable results.
Try a Dawn Simulator
A dawn simulator is a product with large light bulbs that are timed to your morning alarm. By waking up to this bright light, you can get away with tricking your brain into believing that it’s a beautiful summer day rather than a dark wintry one, which can help set the proper tone and mood for your day ahead.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
When we are feeling stressed, it can be easy to reach for well-known comfort foods. Unfortunately, these foods are often stuffed with excessive amounts of sugar and fat that are actually more likely to worsen symptoms of SAD. An occasional indulgence is still perfectly healthy, though you should try to make sure you consume a significant amount of leafy greens while lowering your carb intake from day-to-day.
Though it may be hard to find the motivation at first, try to get yourself into a regular exercise routine. This doesn’t mean you have to complete a strenuous workout each and every day, but simply that you should be committed to taking a little bit of time to go for a walk, practice yoga, or do whatever feels good for your body and your stress level. There’s an added benefit to doing any of these activities in the natural sunlight, so try to take advantage of those few hours a day when the sun is shining, even if it’s hiding behind some clouds.
Change Your Indoor Environment
Since you will likely be spending more time inside during the winter, it can be beneficial to redecorate your home a bit to boost your mood. This can include adding new art pieces to your walls, using lighter curtains that won’t block out the sun, or even just moving around your furniture to make it feel like a completely new space.
Talk to Your Therapist
As a form of depression, SAD can be treated using common clinical methods. Schedule a consultation at one of our offices in the greater New York area to discuss how behavioral therapy or medication may be able to help you manage your symptoms during cold, dark seasons.