4 Tips for Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Nothing lifts my mental state like a mid-winter trip to a tropical destination! If you have been following along on social media you know that last week I returned home from eight days in Mexico! Stay tuned on the blog because I plan on sharing a vacation recap and my top recommendations for things to do and places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula! I haven't done much international travel so it was definitely a learning adventure as much as it was a fun and relaxing experience.

I find taking a vacation to a warm-weather destination is extremely helpful in combating symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I typically experience during January/February.  My energy levels are lower, I oversleep and have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I often feel restless and am more easily agitated, I crave a lot of carbs and sweets (which often leads to weight gain) and I end up withdrawing from my social scenes, feeling the need to be alone more often than in the warmer months. 

It's estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 10 million Americans, with another 10 to 20 percent experiencing mild symptoms. SAD is four times more likely to affect women than men and its onset normally happens between the late teens and early 30s. I started to manifest symptoms of SAD during my college years and it took breaking off multiple relationships on almost the same exact day in early February (only to get back together for a few of them, once Spring rolled around) for me to realize that something besides an ex-partner was wrong here. Now, I'm hyper-aware of the affect SAD plays in my life and actively work to combat it and stay as mentally and physically healthy as possible during these last few cold months.

My Top Tips for Combating SAD

  • Take a Vitamin D supplement. It is thought that Vitamin D plays a role in seratonin activity and that those affected by SAD have a deficinecy. There are mixed reviews on whether this is an effective treatment for SAD but I find it works for me.

  • Get out of bed quickly. The longer I lay around in bed, the more I want to stay. Putting my phone across the room with an obnoxious alarm will guarantee I get out of bed. The trick is not getting back into it.

  • Make a point to get outside. I take a walk on my lunch breaks while the sun is out - even if it's freezing - and I try to stay close to the windows at work so I get some sunlight there as well.

  • Hit the 'winter reset button'. I find that taking a vacation every year in January or February helps break up the cold season and gives me a lil positive mental boost. Money can be scarce after the holidays so I build this into my annual budget to ensure I can take a trip every winter. Can't put a dollar amount on personal happiness.

If you want to learn more about SAD or are looking for help to combat it yourself, check out my sources - National Institute of Mental Health and Psychology Today - for more info. 


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