Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

empty park bench at night in a park

Have you noticed that the days are getting shorter with less daylight? As we prepare to settle in for the fall and winter, be mindful that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can set in.

Sometimes called the Winter Blues, SAD is a type of depression that happens seasonally. Putting all nicknames aside, it is important to recognize that SAD is form of depression. And before we reach peak timing for SAD, it is important to be aware of the steps that you can take to combat its effects - so that you are prepared when the time comes.

  1. Soak in the Light
    While access to sunlight is challenging in fall and winter months, it is more important than ever to make time to for daylight. As the weather permits, consider taking a walk in a park or your neighborhood with a friend. If mobility is challenging for you, consider dressing in layers and having your morning coffee or tea on a porch or deck where you have access to sunlight. 

    If you aren't able to be out in natural light, there are artificial sources. Seek out light therapy or ask your healthcare provider to suggest a light box that you can purchase for home use.

  2. Get Outside
    As much as the weather allows, make it a priority to get fresh air daily. Even just ten minutes of fresh air can improve your mood and mental state. If you aren't able to stay outside for long, make the most of the time you have.

    Focus on taking deep breaths to clear your mind. Feel the air on your cheeks and savior your limited time outdoors. 

  3. Stay Active
    Moving your body releases natural chemicals in your body that help to combat depression and anxiety. Whether you sit in a chair and perform a series of arm raises, you go for a walk or you try a group exercise class, both your body and mind will benefit from the movement. 

    If you are new to exercise at the Y, stop by our Wellness Center and speak with a Wellness Attendant.

  4. Start a Mindfulness Practice
    Meditation and mindfulness help to refocus your mind away from negative thoughts which can improve your mood. Starting with a gentle Yoga class or a guided meditation is a good first step.

    If you aren't able to make it into the Y, there is a catalog of guided meditations on the YMCA360 app

  5. Stay Social
    When the weather turns cold and dark, it can be challenging to motivate yourself to leave the house. Fight the feeling as much as possible, trying to stick with your social routine. 

    For times that you truly cannot leave the house, don't forget to pick up the phone to stay in touch with friends or check on someone that you love. You don't need to talk for a long time in order to have a meaningful interaction. 

  6. Find a New Hobby
    Using and sharing your talents are an important way to combat depression. If you have a hobby that you love, stick with it. 

    If you are looking for a new hobby, we offer a variety of ForeverWell events that give you a chance to create art or learn new games. You never know your next passion until you try!

As always, if you are having trouble overcoming feelings of depression and isolation, seek support.