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7 Ways I'm Preparing for Seasonal Affective Disorder This Year

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The days are getting shorter and before we know it daylight savings will be here. Long gone are the evenings when I can go for a walk after dinner or do some work out in the garden.

Last winter was miserable where I live in the Pacific Northwest. The weather was colder than usual and we had several winter storms that dumped snow on us over and over again.

I was trapped indoors for days at a time — unable to drive anywhere because road conditions were so bad. At one point during the winter even going for a walk on our farm was dangerous because of the snow and ice. By the end of the winter I was definitely depressed. All I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep all day and I had no motivation to do any of the activities that I usually enjoy

I’d like to avoid feeling so terrible this year and make an effort to be proactive and prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Season affective disorder is a type of depression related to the change in seasons. SAD often begins and ends at about the same time every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms probably start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Here’s what I’m doing this fall to combat SAD:

1. I made an appointment with my doctor.

I have a couple of medications I take to help me with my anxiety and depression. I see my doctor once or twice a year for a checkup and to discuss my medications and supplements that I take. I have been feeling a little bit “off” all summer, so I figured this was a good time to head in to see my doctor and see about possible blood work that I may need to have done. I also addressed my concerns about SAD and talked about ways to help prevent and cope with it.

2. I stocked up on my vitamins and medications.

After my doctor’s appointment, I made sure my prescriptions were all up to date and ordered more of the vitamins and supplements that I take to help improve my mood, like vitamin D.

3. I purchased a happy light.

I spend a lot of time indoors at my computer working. I purchased a happy light to keep on my desk while I work. A happy lights is a small, portable light that mimics the daylight outside. Light therapy can sometimes help improve your mood and combat sleep issues by resetting your circadian rhythm.

4. I renewed my gym membership.

When it’s pouring rain outside and freezing cold all winter, it can be super tough to get motivated to exercise. I renewed my gym membership and I’m making exercising part of my daily routine.

5. I researched some new and healthy meals to make.

I feel better when I eat healthy nutritious food. I have done some searching for a few new meals my whole family will like that I can easily make during the week. I’m making it a priority to cook healthy meals that are full of vitamins and minerals that can help fight depression.

6. If it’s sunny outside, that’s where you’ll find me.

If there is a day the weather isn’t miserable and we have even a few minutes of gorgeous sunshine, I am pledging to get out of the house and take my dog out for a short walk so I can enjoy the nice weather, even for a little bit.

7. I’m heading on vacation.

If you have the opportunity to take some time off work, try to do it when the weather is nasty and you can get away to somewhere nicer. My parents are headed to Hawaii this winter and I have already booked flights for my daughter and I to join them for a week. I took advantage of a flight sale and my daughter can use my points to fly. Our accommodations are already paid for, so there is no reason not to go! I booked our trip for the end of winter when I know I will be feeling “stir crazy.” It’s great to have something to look forward to.

Even if you can’t get away to somewhere warm and sunny, you can still try to take a weekend road trip somewhere nicer if you have the funds and can get the time off.

mom, daughter and dad walk hand-in-hand

How do you deal with SAD? What are some of your tips to help prevent it?

Follow this journey here.

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Unsplash image via Lukas Budimaier

Originally published: October 25, 2017
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