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  • Writer's pictureAllie Eldridge

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately also called SAD, affects 3 million Americans per year. And that's just the reported cases. This disorder is very common in anyone above the age of 14.

SAD is brought on by the lack of daylight in the winter months and can cause increased depression and anxiety, lethargy, lack of motivation, and mood swings.

Here's the thing about daylight and energy: our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is biologically programmed to follow cycle of day and night. When the sun comes up, the light causes serotonin production in your brain which wakes you up and also makes you happy. When it becomes dark, melatonin is produced which causes you to become sleepy and slow. This is the same reason some animals hibernate. They prepare for winter and store up energy by eating in excess and nesting. Some of us are much more prone to this biological, therefore completely normal, trend.

Here's the other thing: we don't blame the baby bears for hibernating. We don't blame them for sleeping a whole lot more, we don't blame them for exercising less, we don't blame them for eating more, so why would we blame ourselves? We're all just cute baby bears with a lot more responsibilities. So be kind to yourself. We don't fault the seasons for changing, and we should respect the change in ourselves as well.

Now here are some ways to better adjust to SAD. A very common way to treat SAD is light therapy. This can be done with special light therapy boxes and lamps, or by making an effort to be outside in the sunlight whenever possible. A key benefit to sunlight is vitamin D. I take some vitamin D gummies throughout the winter and it is incredibly helpful. My favorite tip for lack of motivation is that you can do anything for 15 minutes; set a timer and get shit done for 15 minutes at a time! You can also plan your day around daylight hours if you have any control in that. Exercise is incredibly helpful for mood stabilization, so try to incorporate some light exercise into your daily routine. Honor your body's need to rest, and give yourself a bit of a break. Definitely incorporate self-care into your schedule as well. Some of my favorite self-care activities are taking a bath, deep conditioning my hair, painting my nails, meditating, reading, and doing yoga. Find 10 minutes a day to plan something to look forward to.

SAD is really hard, we know this, but remember that it is only a season and we can get through this. Give yourself a break and don't blame yourself for changing with the seasons.



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