Feeling Blue? Here’s How to Shrug Off the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Turn that SAD frown upside down this winter

Credit: volodina

Your moodiness this winter might be attributed to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here’s how you can fight back

Researchers have long studied the relationship between weather and mood. Although they can’t agree if or how weather affects mood, most do agree that weather conditions can influence each of us in different ways. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is thought to be caused by lack of sunlight in the winter months. Sunlight slows the release of the hormone melatonin, but an increase in this hormone is linked to low energy, lethargy, moodiness and depression.

How to Improve Your Mood in Bad Weather

You can’t control the weather, but you can make minor adjustments if your mood is affected by things like temperature, humidity or precipitation.

  • Cold weather aggravates Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA), which can frustrate and depress those who like to exercise outdoors. Purchase indoor exercise equipment or join a gym instead to get your exercise kick.
  • Schedule holidays or short trips to another climate in the winter, or simply accept and work with your reactions. Try to reschedule stressful projects or events so that you can concentrate on relaxing and coping with your winter reactions.
  • Make it a priority to get at least 15 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight when it’s available. Even the filtered rays on a cloudy day can suppress melatonin.
  • Lighten up your surroundings. Make your house brighter. Trim bushes around windows, paint walls a lighter colour, change the lighting, and, if possible, install a few skylights.
  • Ask your doctor about bright light therapy, which uses special full-spectrum lighting – not your standard household lights.
  • Other lifestyle habits can improve your “bad weather” days. Healthy eating and regular, moderate exercise significantly improves mood, even in SAD sufferers. In addition, learning to control your reaction to stress helps maintain a positive disposition and mental calmness.