The Dreary Winter: Battling Seasonal Affective Disorder

Financial Freedom is not as good if you are not feeling well enough to enjoy it. Feeling blue in winter is not a rare occurrence. Many people experience a decline in mood and energy levels during the coldest months of the year. Keeping yourself healthy and active can help combat this sadness.  

As the days grow shorter and darker, many people are susceptible to experiencing what is often called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. In fact, many people may not be aware of what they are experiencing and, therefore, are unprepared to properly treat it. 

According to Psychology Today, the most common type of SAD occurs in winter. The disorder affects about 10 million people who will see some common symptoms emerge as the seasons change. Symptoms of the disorder include feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, weight gain, loss of energy and oversleeping, irritability, and fatigue.  

People who may not be aware they have the disorder may be at higher risk of developing deeper depression and even dependency issues with substances like alcohol and drugs. Many of the symptoms of SAD are likely to predispose people to engage in self-destructive behavior. Depression makes people vulnerable and susceptible to becoming dependent on substances, and avoiding this is vital, as dependency will create a vicious cycle. Looking out for yourself is the best way to combat symptoms. 

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Stay Active

Staying active is extremely important for warding off some of the strongest symptoms. The changes in weather can actually alter the levels of serotonin in the brain. Stimulating the brain with exercise and boosting the production of brain chemicals can help your mood and state of mind. Don’t fret about the cold and motivate yourself to:

  • Go for walks or jogs during the day to receive a healthy dose of sunshine. Don’t avoid going outdoors; the more time you spend outside, the more you’ll get used to the elements. 
  • Set some winter fitness goals and commit to them. 
  • Make sure to layer up. Invest in some proper winter workout gear, and you’ll be less likely to give up on your workout routine.  
  • Try a new sport. As the first signs of winter rolls around, sign up for a new fitness regimen. Try yoga, martial arts, or indoor swimming.

Fuel Up Properly

It goes without saying that diet is vital to overall health. It not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but it regulates energy levels and prevents energy crashes. Stay away from processed foods and sugars, which are difficult to digest and tend to wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. Consider some winter superfoods that help you get vital nutrients and vitamins without sacrificing flavor. Some of these include root vegetables like carrots, winter squash, cabbage, and cauliflower. Stay away from fast food and empty calories. A balanced diet includes a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Try to eat the following:

  • Plenty of fresh fruit 
  • Vegetables and dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and spinach
  • Lean meats or other sources of lean proteins 
  • Nuts and seeds that provide healthy fat and calories
  • Sweet potatoes and squash which are great for energy 

Other Tricks

The drop in sunlight can affect people’s moods and sleep cycles. Other ways to help mitigate some of the symptoms of seasonal depression, as Forbes suggests, include the following:

  • Dawn simulators: This is one way to simulate sunlight coming in through your windows in the morning hours. 
  • Take up a sport: You don’t have to become a professional athlete, but you might actually benefit from sports. Whether you’re playing with friends and family or joining a local neighborhood league, participating in a sport can work wonders on both your mind and your body. Although you might need to invest in some gear to get started, the long-term benefits will definitely be worthwhile.
  • Light boxes: This is a popular way to increase the light in your office or room to combat the darkness and dreary feelings. 
  • Develop a routine: Creating a routine can be a helpful way to keep yourself busy, active, and productive. The more we accomplish in our day, the better we feel about ourselves and the more energy we have. 
  • Get your finances in order: For many, financial issues are their biggest source of stress. When you get your finances under control, you’ll feel less tension and be less likely to feel depressed. For example, if you’re a homeowner, you can lower your interest rates or get an infusion of cash through a home refinance. 

The good news about SAD is that it is seasonal. The feelings of sadness and hopelessness don’t last forever. However, giving in to these feelings is not the best way to spend the snowy days of winter. There is a way to see the season through a new light. Instead, care for yourself and your body, and you’ll find it gets easier as you get stronger. Keep going on your Financial Freedom Journey.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Guest Post by Kimberly Hayes
Chief Blogger


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