5 Coping Strategies For Seasonal Affective Disorder

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

5 Coping Strategies For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is not easy to live with. It can be confusing to suffer from SAD, because it causes mood changes during certain parts of the year. While some people may experience SAD during the summer months, most people who suffer from SAD will experience symptoms during the winter months.

Symptoms of SAD can be oppressive. They can affect a person’s mental health considerably. It can cause a depressed mood, anxiety, sleep issues, and irritability. Such symptoms can affect many areas of life, like relationships, work performance, motivation, and physical health and wellness.

Fortunately, there are methods to use to combat the symptoms of SAD. If you suffer from SAD, your first line of defense is to have strong and effective coping strategies. These coping strategies will target the symptoms of SAD by countering the causes of the disorder, and teaching coping skills to manage the day-to-day factors that may worsen SAD.

The following coping strategies are effective in combating SAD:

1. Exercise. People tend to become less active during the winter months. This is due to a number of factors, including:

  • Shorter daylight hours
  • Cold and uncomfortable outside conditions
  • Less outdoor activities available, due to weather conditions
  • Less social events, due to others feeling resistant to venturing out into the cold
  • Less motivation to stay active and exercise

To prevent these effects that are associated with SAD, be sure to make it a point to exercise regularly. Making sure that you get at least 30 minutes of active exercise per day will significantly diminish effects of SAD. Exercising will be especially effective if performed outside. This is because exposure to the outdoors stimulates the brain and provides fresh air to the lungs and body.

2. Spend time with friends and family. During the winter months, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of passing on socializing with loved ones and opportunities to make new friends and meet new people. That is because braving the cold seems excruciating to those who suffer from SAD, and as a result, People with SAD can tend to isolate themselves during the winter months. Even though it is uncomfortable, it is important to maintain a social life that involves meeting up and interacting with people in person.

Tip: You can get creative, too! If socializing outdoors or making it to a friend or family member’s house is simply not possible, try using technology to compensate for the social interaction, like Skype or FaceTime

3. Try out light therapy. During the winter months, there is less daylight, which in itself can cause a person to feel depressed. The gloomy weather and shorter days can affect the way in which a person experiences SAD. Light therapy is an effective way to compensate for the lack of sunlight. Be sure to consult with your medical or mental health professional before trying out light therapy to cope with SAD.

4. Get creative with Vitamin-D. Much of the Vitamin-D that people get comes from the sun. The lack of the sun’s rays that reach the earth causes a deficiency of Vitamin-D. This can cause a depressed mood. Try taking Vitamin-D supplements to counteract the effects of Vitamin-D deficiency. You can also supplement Vitamin-D with your diet, by incorporating foods, like:

  • Fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Legumes
  • Soy
  • Red meats
  • Eggs
  • Dairy

5. Go to therapy. For the most effective results, consulting with a therapist will be effective in learning how to manage the effects of SAD. SAD can cause interrupted emotions and thought patterns that can worsen mood. Therapy is a great way to make sure that you are able to manage your thoughts and emotions in a healthy way.

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