Self, Health And Wellness

7 Ways To Ward Off Seasonal Affective Disorder — AKA The Winter Blues

Photo: getty
7 Ways To Feel Better If You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The "winter blues" are more common than you think, especially if you live in an area that can go for weeks or even months without sunlight.

They could also be a sign of brain overload, which means you are simply doing too much. When was the last time you stopped and did nothing? Yes, you heard me right! Did nothing?

Stop and take a breath; try this for ten minutes.

If you don't learn to slow down, your winter blues will only get worse. What can happen is that you just keep going and going — you don't realize you're even getting the blues to begin with.

This could lead to seasonal depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disrder (SAD).

According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of depression is "related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody."

Many people suffer from SAD; you are not alone. But unfortunately, not everybody talks about it. This leaves you feeling alone and isolated — and isolation is the worst thing you can do for your depression.

RELATED: What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder? 5 Things To Know About The 'Winter Blues'

Talk to friends and family. If that doesn't help, then talk to a professional. You don't have to go through this alone.

The good news is you can get help with seasonal depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just stay away from stereotypes. Those are based on very old beliefs.

You are not crazy for feeling depressed, and you can get through this.

Here are 7 ways to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and get rid of your winter blues:

1. Don't isolate yourself.

When you are feeling depressed, you may be more irritable, which will make you feel like you don't want to be around other people. You may even hear voices that are telling you to stay in.

But this is actually the best time to go out or be around friends and family. Even if you feel like you might not know anyone ther, just being in a positive social atmosphere can help lighten your spirits.

Pull yourself up by the boot straps and make yourself go out. You'll be glad you did.

2. Get outside and soak in the sun's rays.

You need natural sunlight — aka vitamin D — to help your depression. If you can sit by a window during the day, that's good, but you also need to get outside. If you can, go for a 20-minute walk.

If you live in a place where it is too cold to get outside during the day, then invest in light bulbs that are natural light, rather than fluorescent light.

3. Get moving.

Studies have shown that walking for 30-45minutes a day, five days a week, helps reduce depression symptoms.

You can exercise inside or outside, but try a workout that will challenge you and get your heart rate up.

Personally, I like to start my day with exercise. When I do, I am much more focused and in a really good mood.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Fight Seasonal Depression (When Winter Blues Have You Feeling Sad)

4. Keep things simple.

You are led to believe that, in order to get ahead, you must suffer. But this is an old belief.

Now, don’t get me wrong — if you want to get ahead, then you will have to sweat a little bit. But not at the expense of yourself and loved ones.

For example, if you can’t afford a new car, then buy a used one. Don’t worry about what others will think. What matters is you won’t be stressed out and feel depressed.

5. Rest your mind.

Make it a practice to set aside 10 minutes a day to breathe and close your eyes. I know you feel that's too much time, but it really isn’t.

Make sure you clear your mind. If thoughts come up don’t judge them, just let them be.

You’re probably thinking that's a waste of time — but that’s because you have trained your brain to think that way. Start retraining your brain today, by letting it rest.

6. Stop beating yourself up with negative self-talk.

This is something everyone is guilty of — seasonal depression or not — and it really is a waste of time.

You tell yourself things that aren't true. Maybe these are things you heard growing up, or that were shouted at you in a prior relationship

Replace each negative thought with a positive thought. It can be as simple as, "Today will be a fresh start."

7. Turn it over to your god or higher power.

When you're depressed and it feels like nobody else cares, it’s good to know that God cares. You aren’t meant to be perfect. You shouldn’t expect this of yourself.

You also shouldn’t hang around with people that expect perfection from you all the time.

The next time you are feeling stressed out, say a prayer. Ask God, what would he do? Then, just sit there and breathe.

Don't let anyone tell you that your winter blues are no big deal or that you should just get over it. If you are feeling bad, make sure that you don't try to hide it. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that you have a problem with seasonal depression and getting help for it.

If you think you have Seasonal Affective Disorder or other signs of depression, make sure to talk to a therapist about it. Asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do. This will help you learn about the source of your pain, and what you can do about it.

RELATED: 6 Tips For Surviving The Winter If You Suffer From Seasonal Depression

Lianne Avila is a marriage and family therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA, who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter or learn more about her services and expertise by visiting her website.

This article was originally published at Lessons for Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.