Feeling down as the days become shorter and darker? You’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Keep reading for our top actionable tips to combat SAD and reclaim your mood this winter.

Have you noticed a mood change as the days get shorter and darker? If so, you’re not alone. You could be among the 10 million or more Americans experiencing a mood issue called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

SAD is a type of depression that typically emerges during the fall and continues into the winter months. SAD symptoms vary between individuals and may include:

  • Feelings of depression almost every day
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

At Peace, Hope & Harmony, board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner Nadja Nelson-Zeno, MSN, PMHNP-BC, and the team offer ongoing support through the colder season so you can enjoy the winter.

If you suspect you might suffer from SAD, it’s important to talk to a mental health provider for personalized support. In the meantime, here’s a look at our top tips for beating seasonal affective disorder this winter.

1. Try light therapy

One of the most effective at-home treatments for SAD is light therapy, which involves exposure to a very bright light for about 30 minutes each day, typically as soon as you wake up.

This light mimics natural sunlight, helping alter your brain chemicals linked to mood. It’s important to use a lightbox designed for SAD treatment, as it filters out UV rays while providing the necessary brightness level.

Be sure to talk to the Peace, Hope & Harmony team for personalized recommendations on light therapy.

2. Maintain a regular exercise routine

Physical activity is a proven way to fight depression, and it can be especially beneficial for those dealing with SAD. This is because exercise helps to boost the production of endorphins, chemicals in your brain that help improve your mood.

You don’t have to become a gym rat to enjoy this boost in feel-good chemicals. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s yoga, running, cycling, or even dancing, and aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

3. Optimize your nutrition

Nutrition plays a serious role in your mental health. During the winter months, it’s important to focus on foods that can help fight off the symptoms of SAD. Be sure to consume as many fresh fruits and veggies as you can for optimal nutrition.

You’ll also want to incorporate plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and vitamin D-rich foods like fortified milk and cereals. And be sure to stay away from eating too many carbohydrates and sweets, which can lead to energy crashes.

4. Try stress-reducing activities

Engaging in activities that help reduce stress and anxiety can significantly reduce the symptoms of SAD. Consider practices like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or tai chi.

Be sure to take part in activities that make you feel happy and relaxed. Reading a good book, taking a hot bath, or even watching a favorite show can also serve as stress reducers.

5. Establish a healthy sleep routine

Sleep has a significant impact on our mood and mental health. This fall and winter, make sure you’re getting enough rest by establishing and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule.

Begin by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day—even on weekend days. You’ll also want to create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping your room dark, cool, and quiet.

If you live with others or in an environment where noise is a concern, try using a white noise machine. Consistently getting enough high-quality sleep can go a long way in protecting your mental health this winter.

6. Talk to a mental health provider

If you find that SAD is significantly impacting your life, it might be time to reach out to a mental health provider for support and resources. The dedicated team at Peach, Hope & Harmony can provide you with personalized SAD recommendations and treatments that meet your specific needs and symptoms.

Professional support can be key to helping you navigate the challenges SAD brings, offering you the necessary tools and strategies to cope effectively during the winter months. Some options may include:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy or talk therapy
  • Personalized help making lifestyle changes

Worried about your mood this winter? Don’t wait to schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Peace, Hope & Harmony in Midlothian, Texas, and get personalized help combating seasonal affective disorder this winter.

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