If long winter months drain you of energy and fill you with woe, you could be one of the millions of people battling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, but warning signs include a depressed mood, a sense of hopelessness, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, altered sleep patterns, changes in appetite or a lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
A difficult time of year
For the millions of people who deal with this condition and others who suffer from milder forms of it, winter months mark a difficult time of year, and may even prompt thoughts of death or suicide in some, doctors warn.
If you or someone you know thinks you might have SAD, it’s best to talk to a medical professional as soon as possible. Whether a diagnosis of SAD is given, or you’re simply feeling the “winter blues”, there are a number of ways to combat the symptoms at home.
Brighten things up
Some people can curb symptoms of SAD with light therapy boxes (light boxes) or full spectrum light bulbs. Sitting next to a light box for at least 30 minutes a day is akin to seeing a bright, sunny day, doctors say. When using the light box, it’s important to keep your eyes open, but don’t look directly into the light.
Use the light box in the morning, and combine the activity with other tasks, such as eating breakfast, checking your email, catching up on work or getting your hair and make-up ready for the day.
People also find relief by creating a comforting or energizing space near a light box or full spectrum bulb.
During dreary winter months, you’re missing out on outdoor activities you would usually enjoy, such as reading outside or going for long walks. Create an inspirational reading nook with a light box or full spectrum bulb. As a finishing touch, include a comfy chair and a beautiful photo of a summer day. You could also buy a treadmill or stationary bike and place it near your light box.
Bring your home to life
You can also battle symptoms by adding plants and greenery. Consider constructing a DIY greenhouse in your backyard to help you prepare for the winter months and grow fruits and vegetables all year round.
If you don’t feel like maintaining an outdoor garden, try adding green and blooming plants to your home. Place the plants in rooms you spend a lot of time in or move them to an area that can be used a sadness-free retreat.
Roll out a yoga mat to practice mindfulness next to an exercise area. Adding movement to your day will help produce endorphins and serotonin that can improve mood.
Add warmth and joy
You can fight dark and dreary with light and cheery. Replace antiquated rugs, and slap on a fresh coat of paint. Your new colors should inspire warmth and joy, like a cozy sunset or a warm, light blue sky. Adding a home improvement project to your to-do list will also help boost your creativity and improve your energy levels. According to recent studies, setting, working toward and achieving goals can be a big mood booster any time of the year.
If you’re not into painting, you could also swap out your décor. Consider buying brighter throw pillows, trading dark-colored bedding for softer hues, or trading your artwork to reflect your favorite outdoor scenes.
You could also frame a few of your favorite photos from a recent vacation and hang them your wall. According to research, reminiscing about past times of joy can provide a dose of happiness in a blue moment.
Cookin’ in the kitchen
Perhaps the most proven method for tacking many kinds of depression, including SAD, is eating more fruits and vegetables. Make healthy eating more fun by trying out new recipes. Cold months are a perfect time for savory soups, stews and crockpot recipes.
Experiment with new ingredients and invite your friends over to taste the results. Even if you don’t feel like socializing, having friends and family around can be the push you need to feel more upbeat and happy.
Also, if you’re planning to spend more time in the kitchen, take note of your surroundings. Make sure to add warm accents and touches to help brighten the mood. You might consider painting the backsplash behind your sink a warm butter or khaki shade, adding pops of green alongside wispy plants, and creating spaces with see-through shelving.
Make your home a positive place
Finally, you should give your home good vibes. Surround yourself with touches from your favourite artists, musicians and authors. This will help boost your mood and motivate you during times when you might be at a greater risk for SAD. Consider buying a surround sound, or multi-room music system to pipe your favourite tunes to rooms you spend a lot of time in.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, but the lack of sun and warmth are keeping you indoors, bring the outside in. Make up a corner of your home when you can experience similar activities, such as a trainer for your bicycle or free weights to keep you in rock-climbing shape.
Additionally, consider design schemes that encourage a positive attitude. Pour yourself into your surroundings. Select décor that breeds confidence, like quotes from successful people you admire, or family heirlooms that bring back happy childhood memories.
Doctors still don’t know what causes seasonal affective disorder but say that whenever big changes happen, big or small, humans have an emotional response. You don’t have to be diagnosed with SAD to feel a touch of the blues during the dark and dreary months of the year.
These home tips can help anyone, any time of the year, manage feelings of depression.
As a reminder, our tips are only suggestions and if your feelings of sadness persist, talk to your doctor and perhaps contact a therapist near you.
Original article from Redfin