This is the time of year for Winter Blues or more serious for some, the setting in of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The days are grayer, colder and darker. Maybe you’ve lost
interest in what you usually love to do. Or maybe you feel more anxious. Is your brain foggier; are you having a more difficult time processing information? Are you reaching for caffeine and sugar more often? Do you just feel like hibernating until spring? Most of us can identify in some way.
SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, predictably sneaks up on us during late fall and we feel the full effects during January and February. The low light seems to be the culprit in SAD. As the days get “longer” and sunnier, our SAD symptoms lift and we feel great again. Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real medical condition. I have experienced it for as long as I can remember. Some of the symptoms include inability to concentrate and make decisions, withdrawal from people, sadness, anxiety, fatigue and cravings for carbohydrates and caffeine.
People who live in areas further away from the equator tend to be more affected and women more than men. Many experience milder symptoms and maybe not every year. We tend to refer to the milder form as Winter Blues.
When my kids were young, I had to figure out ways to manage my struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder so I could function. Maybe these suggestions will help you! And, oh! Even if you are simply dealing with the Winter Blues, these are great suggestions for you too!
1. Right away, schedule time with a friend or friends for at least once a week. Call or email people to:
- arrange lunch dates
- schedule a time to go to the movies
- take a walk
- meet for coffee/hot chocolate
- take turns picking out a breakfast spot
2. Help the people closest to you understand that SAD is real. Ask them to be patient, to encourage you and reassure you that in a couple months you will feel better.
3. Make a simple schedule of things that need to be done regularly and post it where you can see it. Make it colorful – have a friend or child do that for you. Put specific times, but make it simple, not overwhelming. Remember, ordinary tasks may be more difficult right now so include: make kids’ lunches, plan meals, do laundry, take a walk, regular times to eat healthy snacks, etc.
4. Join a Bible Study, have a devotional you read each day and pray. Let God speak to the depth of your soul. He is the ultimate Comforter! Let Him feed your deepest needs.
5. This is a GREAT time to go through our book iChoose2 Love My Life. You will address important areas of your life in tiny steps that are not overwhelming but help you feel like you are accomplishing something important.
6. Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors.
7. Stock your home with ONLY fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. NO SUGAR! Find other foods that can be treats. I make gluten free pancakes and spread them with natural almond butter. I make one soup a week – soothes me from the inside out. Air popped popcorn is warm and yummy.
8. Many people find Omega 3’s helpful for brain function; Light Therapy helpful for overall relief; wearing bright colors add some cheer; and playing games or doing something fun lifts the darkness.
Whether you have the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder, take small steps so you can effectively manage it. How do you make these winter months more palatable? Please share in the comments section so we can help each other!