• Emily Wood

3 Foolproof Ways to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Yes, it’s real. And you’re not alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as SAD, is a form of depression related to the change of seasons. Clever acronym aside, this disorder is very common and very treatable. Usually beginning in the fall and continuing into the winter months, SAD can deplete your energy and bring down your mood, much like general depression. It can even happen in the spring and summer months, but this occurs far less often. It's no coincidence that the fall and winter are often referred to as "cuffing season"...nobody wants to suffer through the cold, insufferable winter alone and depressed! Are you feeling SAD? Chin up! Here are 3 easy things you can do to assuage your symptoms:

1. Light Therapy

Do you remember that weird, glowing box your mom would whip out every year as the temperatures began to drop? That’s called a lightbox, and it’s one of the first things doctors recommend you use to treat fall-onset SAD. Photo-therapy (or light therapy) is designed to mimic the natural light you’d be getting from the sun in those warmer summer months. The idea is to sit a few feet away from the box within the first hour of waking up, and the exposure is supposed to have a positive effect on your brain chemicals. I thought it was a totally ancient concept until I saw Ilana Glazer use one on a recent episode of Comedy Central's Broad City. So retro!

2. Get Outside

This one probably goes without saying, but let’s throw it in there just in case. Taking a walk around the block (or even just to your mailbox!) will get your blood pumping enough to produce some endorphins. Exercise not your thing? Not to worry! You can still benefit from just literally being outside. I know--with these short, cold winter days, it's hard to even want to spend 15 minutes outside--but that 15 minutes is all it takes! Sunlight makes it possible for your body to produce vitamin D, even on cloudy days. Much like with photo-therapy, it's best to embark outside within the first two hours of waking up for maximum effectiveness, but don't be hard on yourself. Just make sure to get your 15 minutes in whenever you have time throughout the day.

3. Practice Mindfulness

There’s an endless flow of information and trends regarding mindfulness and meditation these days, as holistic medicine is making a comeback. With a plethora of seminars, apps, and classes advertising ways to find your “zen” in this fast-paced, interconnected world, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Ironic, isn’t it? Not to worry—you can practice mindfulness on your own, anytime. Some of the many benefits of mindfulness include decreased feelings of anxiety and depression, lower stress levels, and stronger control over regulating emotions. Mindfulness cult

ure has gotten so big, there are hundreds of free apps available filled with guided meditations, mantras, and relaxing voices to help you sleep.

Plug in to unplug!

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