Seasonal Affective Disorder, often referred to as SAD, is characterized by a depression that hits in the depths of winter. Fatigue, depression, social withdrawal, low libido, cravings of high-sugar and high-carb foods, lack of energy, and a general sense of hopelessness can make 4 months of winter quickly feel more like 4 years.
Although some write SAD off as simply “having the blues” or getting “cabin fever,” those who have experienced it know just how intense that experience can be. I have experienced SAD, which led me to want to write this specific blog in the first place. Below you will find a few ideas on how to make your experience of winter more pleasant.
Okay, I know that the idea of being out in the cold isn’t always appealing, but having a winter-specific sport can give you something to look forward to these months of the year. Although SAD often makes a person feel tired, pushing yourself to partake in an energetic activity produces more energy.
Downhill skiing is an obvious option, but gear and lift tickets quickly add up, making it quite a monetary investment. Another, more feasible option could be cross country skiing. The gear is cheaper (and easy to find second hand), and there are many groomed trails that are open for free to the public. Additionally, folks who are new to skiing might find cross country skiing more accessible as it is on mellower terrain. An added bonus? Many state-managed trails are dog-friendly, so your 4-legged friend can come along, too!
Ultimately, the chance to get outside and move coupled with looking forward to an activity that only winter can bring makes having a winter sport a great measure to combat SAD.
One major symptom of SAD is social withdrawal. You might notice yourself avoiding social situations or dreading them as they draw near, but often those social situations are what helps a person experiencing SAD to remember that they are not alone.
It may feel painful, but schedule a coffee date with a loved one. Force yourself to show up and interact, and you might just notice yourself opening up a bit. Depression makes you feel isolated and lonely, so spending time with a friend can offer the necessary reminder that you are loved.
An increasingly popular method of combating SAD is the use of light boxes. While there are many things to consider prior to purchasing a light box (see this article to learn more), a light box can be one of the simplest ways to improve your daily experience of winter.
A huge part of any form of depression is the sense of hopelessness and dreariness that a person feels. This heaviness can be kept at bay if the person engages in activities that leave them feeling inspired.
Start by thinking through creative hobbies you already engage in: music, art, writing, etc. If you don’t already have a creative outlet, take time to search one out for yourself. It could be baking or sewing or refurbishing a piece of furniture or making jewelry or crocheting -- the list goes on. You may have to invest a bit if you’re starting something new but the nice part is that this is up to you. You can take up welding which has a high buy-in price, or you could take up knitting which has a low buy-in price. It’s your call.
Like the other ideas mentioned in this blog, it is going to feel really hard to actually motivate yourself to do this activity. Do it anyway. Force yourself to set aside time for this activity and then hold yourself accountable to making it happen.
This winter I took up weaving seed bead earrings (IG @highdesert.designs), and have loved its impact on my experience of winter. The long, dark hours of evening used to feel imposing, but now feel exciting -- it’s time I can dedicate to my creative endeavor. Personally, I like to pair this creative time with listening to a book on tape for a little added coziness.
No matter what you choose, the idea is that you are training your brain to spend time creating and inspiring and being inspired. The more time your brain spends in that state, the easier it can find that state -- practice makes progress.
Brooke Davidson is a contributing author for Tada Rugs. Tada Rugs is a 5x7 yoga mat disguised as an artistic area rug that you never have to put away. Tada is short for tadasana, or mountain pose, and our own backyard in the San Juan Mountains of Durango, Colorado is where we find our inspiration. Check out our new designs, enter for a chance to win a new Tada Rug, and be sure to follow us for deals and insider specials! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or contact us through our website! Tie a room together and bring your practice home.
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