Has it started to feel as if it’s been winter forever, and spring is nowhere in sight? Have you been irritable, tired and generally unmotivated? You may be living with a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder, also known as the “winter blues.” Doctors have yet to pinpoint an exact reason this condition affects so many people – especially women. However, the most common theory is that the short days and long, dark nights lead to a lack of vitamin D and serotonin, and an overproduction of melatonin.
If you have seasonal depression, you might struggle to muster up the energy to participate in the daily responsibilities of your life. In some cases, you may even feel like you have two separate personalities: one for fall and winter, and another for spring and summer. What are some drug-free ways to brighten up the remaining period of dark, dreary days?
Get More Vitamin D
Your body naturally produces vitamin D from exposure to sunshine, so the most straightforward way to follow this directive is to go outside and soak up the sun’s rays for a few minutes. However, that’s easier said than done when you’re facing a weeklong weather forecast of cold, rainy weather. In that case, you can look for foods that are rich in this nutrient, such as egg yolks, cheese and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. If you’re vegan or otherwise worried you’ll have trouble getting enough vitamin D from your diet, ask your doctor to recommend a vitamin D supplement.
Plan a Getaway
If it’s still dreary and overcast most of the time where you live, consider visiting a sunny destination – perhaps Southern California, Mexico or somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s currently summertime. According to a 2010 Dutch study, the excitement of planning and anticipating a trip can make you happier than the vacation itself, so get started!
The benefits of a mindful outlook on both our psychological and physical health are well-documented, from reducing the harmful symptoms associated with chronic stress to helping stave off depressive episodes. If you start working to become a more mindful person through proven practices such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises, a healthier and happier outlook on life awaits you.
Talk to Your Therapist
Through therapy, you can learn additional healthy, drug-free techniques for working through seasonal depression. For example, an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy has helped many people learn to replace negative thought patterns with more affirmational ones. A therapist who specializes in this form of psychotherapy might ask you to keep a journal, which can serve as a document of your self-defeating thoughts. Then, you can work on more constructive ways to reframe this internal monologue.
Brighter Days Are Ahead
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