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Seasonal affective disorder: How to prepare for shorter days and longer nights

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trastorno afectivo estacional, hombre, triste, depresión, tratamiento / Seasonal affective disorder, man, sad, depression, treatment
Seasonal affective disorder (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is very common.
  • Learn about its causes.
  • Find out how to combat SAD.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter.

It’s believed to be linked to a lack of sunlight, which can disrupt the body’s internal clock and lead to mood changes.

Common symptoms of SAD include low energy, irritability, changes in appetite or weight and difficulty concentrating.

Understanding SAD is the first step in managing its impact on your life.

Combat SAD by increasing exposure to natural light

Meditation for reducing stress levels
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One of the most effective ways to combat SAD is to increase your exposure to natural light.

Make an effort to spend time outdoors during daylight hours, even if it’s cloudy.

Arrange your home or workspace to maximize natural light by keeping curtains open and trimming any overhanging branches that might block sunlight.

You can also invest in a light therapy box, a specialized light that mimics natural sunlight and can help alleviate SAD symptoms.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

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Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for managing seasonal affective disorder.

Regular physical activity, even if it’s a short daily walk, can boost your mood and energy levels.

Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide essential nutrients that support mental health.

Adequate sleep is equally important, so aim for a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine.

Prioritizing self-care and adopting these healthy habits can make a significant difference in your overall well-being and resilience.

Seeking social support to combat seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, support, psycholgy, SAD, treatment
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Seasonal affective disorder can be a profoundly isolating experience, as the symptoms often lead to withdrawal and a sense of disconnection from the world.

However, seeking social support is a vital step in managing SAD and breaking the cycle of isolation.

Staying connected with friends and loved ones, even when you may not feel like doing so, is essential.

In today’s digital age, technology offers valuable tools for maintaining these connections, whether through video calls, text messages, or social media.

Finding strength in sharing

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Sharing your feelings and experiences with someone you trust is a powerful way to combat the emotional burden of SAD.

Opening up about your struggles can provide emotional relief, as it allows you to express what you’re going through and feel heard and understood.

Friends and family who care about your well-being can offer empathy and support during difficult moments.

For those whose SAD symptoms significantly impact their daily life, considering more structured forms of support is crucial.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

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Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help reduce SAD symptoms.

Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation can all promote relaxation and reduce stress.

These practices can be especially beneficial during the winter months when stress levels tend to rise.

Incorporate them into your daily routine to improve your overall well-being.

Consider professional help for seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, support, psycholgy, SAD, treatment
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If your SAD symptoms are severe or persistent, consider seeking professional help.

A mental health professional can assess your condition and recommend appropriate treatments.

Treatment options may include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed.

Thriving through the darker months

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Photo: MundoNOW Archive

Seasonal affective disorder can pose challenges, but with the right strategies and support, you can thrive during the winter months.

Increasing exposure to natural light is the first step.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, seeking social support and practicing mindfulness can also help.

By taking proactive measures and prioritizing your mental and emotional well-being, you can navigate the winter season with resilience and optimism.

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