As fall and winter get closer, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, becomes more common as we get used to less daylight and lower temperatures. These winter blues leave people feeling vulnerable with a tendency to spend more time indoors, but experts are still unsure why SAD is so common. Serotonin and melatonin are the hormones that influence sleep and well-being, but their patterns can become disrupted with the changing seasons. Along with journaling and researching vitamin supplements that may help you, here are seven ways to combat seasonal depression.

Spend more time outdoors

Isolating yourself indoors can become too comfortable and discourage you from leaving your house. Taking a brief walk in the morning or sitting in your backyard might improve your mood. Instead of forcing yourself to take a long walk, try to separate your time outdoors between your schedule.

Create a healthy sleep schedule

Regulate your sleeping hours and create a consistent bedtime and alarm to wake up. Make your mornings exciting by stretching or having a cup of tea after waking up! Experiencing SAD includes having heightened levels of melatonin as their levels of cortisol begin to lower, which can lead to fatigue and low energy. 

Develop a daily routine

Having an organized routine to look forward to every day or week can be beneficial with the use of a planner or calendar. Hold yourself accountable by setting your alarm, eating breakfast, showering and anything else that will convince you to find pleasure in everyday activities.

Consider purchasing a SAD lamp

Investing in a bright therapy light is recommended by therapists to combat SAD. Different lights include broadband light lamps, light therapy lamps and light therapy visors have been proven to help reset your circadian rhythm. However, if you’re sensitive to light or prone to headaches, doctors do not recommend using a light therapy lamp.

Begin exercising and meditating

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, relieve your built-up stress by doing an at-home workout or meditation. Getting physically active can encourage you to leave your house to go to the gym or an open field where you can safely practice exercises or yoga in your comfort zone. If you want to go a bit further, cycling, hiking or doing a dance class can provide you with social interaction, too.

Discuss your feelings with loved ones

Opening up to your close family and friends about your emotions can help you cope and relate to others. Jumping on a Zoom call or going to a friend’s house for dinner can go a long way when loneliness strikes. Along with confiding in your loved ones, therapy can be helpful to everyone and can hopefully provide you with healthy coping mechanisms to combat SAD.

Finding something to look forward to

Although the days seem shorter in the fall and winter, holidays are nearing closer, which means you can have a special day to look forward to. If you celebrate Halloween, begin to countdown your beloved day of dressing up, or maybe you’re excited to see family and friends over the Christmas break. Maybe there’s a special holiday meal that you’ve been ready to try. Either way, this will help you focus less on your stress and isolation at home.

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