With fall and winter weather, every Canadian is very aware that the days get very short and the sun disappears earlier and earlier. This means we’re all at risk for developing Seasonal Affective Disorder (referred to as SAD, both an appropriate acronym and descriptor for how it makes you feel). This seasonal version of depression can affect your whole life, leaving you tired, unmotivated and generally focused on staying indoors, and isolating yourself from everything and everyone. It’s a scary prospect, but if you prepare for it, you can keep it from taking over your life. Here’s how:
A large reason Canadians are at risk for SAD is because the lack of daylight and sunshine also means a lack of Vitamin D—the vitamin that helps regulate our mood—since we get it from the sun. Taking a daily supplement of Vitamin D during the colder months can help offset the loss and maintain the happier mood you naturally experience during the summer.
If the addition of supplements into your routine doesn’t cut it, you might try investing in a light box. A light box will cost you, but it mimics the sunlight effect, naturally helping your body produce more of the vitamin D you need. Sitting in front of it for 20 minutes every morning will help regulate your energy and mood for the day.
SAD might make you want to sleep all day and stay up all night, but that’s only going to make it worse. Since the daylight hours are few and precious during the winter, it’s important to be up and awake during those hours and asleep when it’s dark. Commit yourself to a healthy sleep routine with a set bed time and wake time every day.
Just like with regular depression, exercise is a great way to help increase endorphins and energy, which is hugely lacking when you’re going through a SAD phase. While you might feel low in energy, forcing yourself into a daily movement practice will not only increase your energy but help lift your mood.