Seasonal affective disorder is a real thing. It affects somewhere between 14-26% of the population every winter, and women are four times more likely to have it than men.
Fighting depression off can seem overwhelming. We want to give you some helpful tools to do so on a budget, so you can get out there and take your life back no matter the season.
1. Get Active
Exercise is a proven way to up your mood levels. Studies have shown that exercising outside is even better, especially if you have the winter blues. When the weather keeps us indoors, we don’t get enough Vitamin D from sunlight, which can make us depressed. Getting out there in the appropriate workout gear for the season is one of the best ways to kick those blues to the curb.
2. Eat Right
Something about winter makes us crave carbs. It may be that because we’re lacking the energy from the much-needed Vitamin D, so we seek our energy out from other sources. Namely, food.
When we’re depressed, we don’t care as much about our appearance, and tend to make less-than-great food choices. (Has anyone else ever done the pint of ice cream on Valentine’s Day thing? I know I’m not alone!) It’s a double-edged sword, because gaining too much weight doesn’t just affect the numbers on the scale; it affects our psyche. We’re trying to solve our energy and depression problem by doing things that make the problem worse.
Instead, seek out foods that will make you feel good. Those foods that make you feel good, like nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, are also lower in caloric count, meaning you can actually eat more if you are using them to replace other foods. Surprisingly, frozen fruits and veggies can be healthier than buying fresh in the winter months, and they are generally cheaper.
3. Simulate the Sun
Until a little over 100 years ago, time wasn’t a very accurate thing. Clocks, nonetheless watches, weren’t very accurate, and we ran our days by the rhythms of the sun. When it went down, we went to sleep. When dawn rolled around, we rolled out of bed.
Now that alarm clock goes off at 6:00 in the morning no matter what. It’s pitch black outside, and our bodies hate it. Getting a sunrise alarm clock can do a lot to restore the harmony our bodies once had with nature, even if we’re artificially inducing it. You set your alarm for 6:00 AM, and the clock will gradually light up until it reaches its full brightness, simulating sunrise. Your body should naturally wake up with the change in light, but if you don’t want to risk it, there are alarm sounds that come with it, ranging from natural animal noises to your traditional blaring and beeping.
The initial investment isn’t cheap, but long-term it’s a lot less expensive that going to the psychologist once a week through the winter months, or not being able to put in a proper day’s work because your body is still angry that it was woken up improperly.