Besides the unnerving cold and harsh winters there is an unbeatable, exciting Christmas cheer in the air. Fairy lights, decorated Christmas trees, snuggly sweaters and warm beverages is the vibe that does the rounds on social media posts.
For some however, beyond the twinkling of these merry lights, there is a distressing psychological pattern that typically rears its ugly head when the light is lesser and the air colder. Yes, we are talking about SAD, a major depressive disorder that is synchronous with a seasonal pattern.
SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a condition that is more likely found in habitants who live away from the equator, farther north. That being said, it can arrest anyone anywhere. Symptoms generally range from fatigue, frequent bouts of mood swings to feeling of hopelessness, difficult concentrating, etc. amongst others. It is difficult to diagnose SAD as it lingers within a fair line of other mental illnesses. But once you identify it through thorough psychological and physical evaluation, you better get on to work at getting rid of it.
So how does one deal with the seasonal blues? Anyone who has been living with this condition would tell you that they have developed their own ‘comfort kit’ as a therapy. May be cosy pillows, a good workout routine, aroma therapy; i.e. a mix of products, techniques, and activities that make them feel better. People resort to Light Therapy Boxes, Dawn Simulators, take medications and lots of therapy to pull themselves out of it. There are also some routine lifestyle changes that can help alleviate symptoms and pull back from spiraling into the depression. If you know anyone struggling with SAD, here’s what you can advise them to adopt in their routine.
Make your home brighter. Open the blinds to allow ample sunlight into your room. Add skylights. Nothing like livening up your living space!
Select a convenient office space. Sit closer to windows and add some vibrant element to your desk space. Keep it positive all the time.
Get outside. Mindfully spend time in nature. Include long walks in your daily routine. Sit on a bench in a park, soak up the sun (best to obtain vitamin D) and try to step out of the house (for chores or work or exercise) within couple of hours after you wake up.
Exercise regularly. You can combat any condition with good physical activity. Exercise releases endorphins which in turn alleviates stress and anxiety. Being fit can make you feel so much better about yourself.
Meditate. Can’t stress enough on the incredibly powerful effects of meditation practice on human body! Meditation is not only for the emotionally stressed but for anyone who wants to gear up towards a balanced mind-body mantra.
Surround yourself with trees. Studies show that being around plants can lift your spirits. Houseplants can help keep gray moods at bay.
Keep the social calendar busy. When the dark throes kick in, withdrawing from social events comes naturally. But, don’t hunker down. Nudge yourself to get glam up and show up at parties. Anything that forces you to leave the house!
Book a vacation. Scurry off to a warmer place which is an escape from overcast skies and harsh weather. Beach, sun, tropics and a break from mundane schedule is all you probably need.
SAD is a mental block. It is an illness that eventually limits people's ability to live their lives to the fullest. Being proactive is the key to lift your attention to happier thoughts. If the depression sticks for more than a couple of weeks talk to a doctor and get help. Ward off the winter blues and allow yourself to enjoy time with your family as well as function well at work.