The drop in temperature and shortened daylight hours signify that fall is well under way and that winter is approaching. While some people love this time of year, many people find that the seasonal change makes it a little harder to be happier. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it affects up to 20% of the population, at least in a mild form. If you experience SAD, read the following tips about how to stay more upbeat during the season.
1. Get outside
Even if it is freezing outside, it's important for your body to feel and breathe in fresh air. Fresh air really wakes up all of your senses and allows you to feel more energized, which is a big contributor to feeling better. Many people with depressive symptoms complain about feeling tired and lethargic, but staying in bed or on the couch all day can often make people feel even more tired.
A short walk around the yard or neighborhood can do wonders for your health and mood. Your muscles will be utilized, your brain will be recharged by the sensory experience of going outside, and your overall mood will be lifted through this brief exercise, which can encourage the production of "feel-good" hormones called endorphins.
2. Wake up earlier
In many areas of the nation, it starts to get dark around 5 or even 4 p.m. as the end of the year approaches. This can really put a damper on a person's mood, since it may be already dark when people get out of work or school.
Since sunlight has been proven to affect people's moods, try to get up one hour earlier than you normally do. This allows you to enjoy an extra hour of sunlight, and you can cut the hours spent awake while it's dark outside by going to bed one hour earlier. You can even run a few errands in the early morning to feel more accomplished earlier in the day. Grocery shopping, hitting the ATM, and going to the post office when things are quiet and peaceful are great things to get done in the morning.
3. Deal appropriately with any chronic conditions
People who have chronic diseases and chronic pain may find that their symptoms worsen during the winter. This is partially because mood affects the perception of discomfort; if your mood is depressed because of Seasonal Affective Disorder, you'll feel more severe symptoms.
If you find that you're having trouble with any of your conditions, your doctor may adjust your medication dosage, suggest that you attend therapy sessions, or obtain treatment at a clinic like Greater Cincinnati Pain Management Centers. These treatments and therapies could make significant differences in your pain or discomfort level. It's important that you don't ignore worsening conditions, as they could be a sign of your condition progressing, and they could also lead to further disabilities.
Despite its widespread prevalence, the good news about Seasonal Affective Disorder is that it can be appropriately managed. There are several things that people can incorporate into their daily lives to help improve their moods, like going outside, waking up earlier, and dealing with chronic conditions appropriately.