Light, exercise and diet help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder 'SAD'

on Friday, 01 February 2019. Posted in Blog Tags Blog, hypnotherapy

CancerCare hypnotherapist David Faratian's blog

Coping with the long, dark days of winter can be difficult.

For most people, experiencing darker days is just business as usual. However, according to physicians, as much as six per cent of the population suffers from a form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is also known as winter depression. 

Fatigue, an unhealthy craving for carbohydrates and a persistently bad mood are common symptoms of SAD.

In the more severe cases, work productivity may suffer and individuals might avoid going outside altogether.

Feelings of hopelessness and low motivation often ensue. When SAD impairs your ability to function normally, it’s time to adopt self-help strategies that can help get you reenergised.

Research has shown that a lack of exposure to natural light is a leading cause of seasonal affective disorder.

It creates a hormonal imbalance that has a direct effect on mood and motivation.

House lamps aren’t strong enough and often use the wrong kind of light (white light is necessary).

A light box, one that generates at least 10,000 lux (100 times stronger than a lightbulb), is usually prescribed in such cases.

They’re made specifically for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder and they’re safe because they filter out ultraviolet light.

In fact, some people keep a light box at work so they’re exposed to light throughout the day.

It’s also important to get as much exposure to natural light as possible.

If you can, make a point of taking a walk on your lunch hour or walk (or ride a bicycle) instead of driving.

Balanced Diet
People who struggle with SAD tend to overeat comfort foods that are heavy in carbohydrates, which causes weight gain.

Overeating becomes a form of unhealthy emotional compensation, so it’s important to stick with a balanced diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein.

Emphasise foods rich in vitamin D, a byproduct of sunlight which is in short supply late in the year.

Salmon, eggs, mushrooms, and foods rich in omega 3 are especially beneficial late in the year.

Find Ways to Stay Active
Exercise is a good way to improve your mental outlook. It activates feel-good hormones in the brain that encourage you to continue exercising.

Physical activity gets your blood flowing and heart pumping, a self-invigorating form of care that can help you overcome the effects of fatigue and lethargy.

Research has shown that even one hour of exercise a week can mitigate the effects of depression.

Social Interaction
Getting out and about may be the last thing an individual plagued by seasonal affective disorder feels like doing, but it’s important for combatting poor moods and feelings of isolation.

Simple acts like going for a walk outdoors with a neighbor or relative can improve your sense of well-being.

Or, make a point of having coffee with a friend once a week at your favourite shop.

Sometimes, just sharing happy memories with people you care about can have an uplifting effect on your spirits.

Meditate and Contemplate
Sometimes, engaging in contemplative disciplines like meditation and journaling can help you achieve a new perspective, one that helps you overcome depression and keep problems in their proper perspective.

Meditation is a good way to strengthen the mind-body connection, whereas keeping a journal helps you make sense of your thoughts and feelings in a way that nothing else can.

Gut Health
It’s very difficult to feel good about things when your digestive health is suffering.

Maintaining a balance between good and bad gut bacteria is essential for good digestion and your overall physical well-being.

Caring for your mental and physical needs can help stave off the emotionally debilitating effects of seasonal affective disorder.

So, remember to stay physically active and set aside some time to process your thoughts, both of which are important strategies when the long days and lack of sunlight weigh down on you.

With special thanks to guest blogger Kimberly Hayes

Wishing you a peaceful day,

David Faratian