If you see a massive change in your mood every year when autumn arrives and summer is long gone, you probably have the seasonal affective disorder (SAD). While it can get pretty serious in some cases, for other people, it’s just a matter of adjusting their lifestyle. Your diet, exposure to the sun, and activity levels are only a few things that you should look to change in order to feel better.
1. Try light therapy at home.
Think of how good the sunlight feels on your skin and how you can create that same feeling from your own home. All you need is a tabletop sunlamp or a lightbox that provides 10,000 lux of light exposure and very little UV light. This will help you do your own light therapy, which is most effective when done in the morning for 20 minutes.
You need to sit in close proximity to the light, but not look at it directly. You can do something else in the meantime, such as read or meditate. You can keep doing it all year long if you see that it helps boost your mood. However, if you notice redness or itchiness on your skin, you’d better consult with a doctor.
2. Go for a walk early in the morning.
Waking up in the morning might not be very easy or pleasant for you, and that’s why you should try taking a walk. Not only will your energy levels be boosted, but your whole body and mind will feel refreshed and energized too. And taking a walk first thing in the morning will set the tone for the rest of the day. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t take a walk anytime during the day if you feel particularly sad or depressed.
Additionally, it’s been scientifically proven that walking every morning improves your brain function. This happens because your brain is supplied with increased quantities of blood. And this action is highly connected with stronger memory, better concentration, and the ability to solve problems effectively.
3. Try volunteering or doing something nice for someone else.
This is something that will not only help you get over your seasonal sadness, but it keeps your stress in check in the long run. As a study found, the more money people keep for themselves, the more shame they feel, and their cortisol levels rise. So generosity isn’t just about being nice, but also about staying healthy.
Also, every time we do a good deed, we have what’s called a “helper’s high,” which is basically a bunch of endorphins being released in our brain. We feel satisfied with ourselves and get a great sense of gratitude for the things we have and decide to share with others.
4. Move as much as you can in any way you want.
Adding movement and exercise to your life should be a priority for you if you’re struggling with seasonal sadness. Whether it’s lifting weights, going for a run, or doing any other activity, the awakening of your body will help your brain stay active too. You can do any of those activities with your friends, partner, or even your kids. You will see that your stress and anger levels will go down and you won’t be feeling as alone as you did before.
5. Use your bedside lamp as an alarm clock.
Instead of having that annoying alarm clock ringing every morning, you can opt for a sunrise alarm clock. What it does is start illuminating your room in the same way the sunlight would if you were sleeping outside. This helps your body and brain wake up naturally, instead of being brutally awakened by an alarm clock.
You can choose the time that the alarm will start lighting up depending on how much time your body needs to wake up. The way these devices work is by helping our body temperature to rise and our cortisol levels to increase. And while cortisol might be a stress hormone, having higher levels of it in the morning can be a good thing.
If you know that autumn and winter are not good periods for you, you can plan to take some of your time off so you can take a trip during that time. Pick a place that’s sunny all year long with longer days than nights. If you want, you can take a good friend with you or someone that also feels as sad as you during these periods. Don’t overbook yourself with too many activities and instead choose simple things that will keep your body moving.
The effects such a trip will have on your soul will last for many weeks and you’ll feel happier and more energized. Your home will feel beautiful no matter the weather outside and no matter the difficulties. Remember that it’s not about where we live, but how we treat every situation that occurs.
You might be a huge fan of detective and supernatural shows on Netflix, but they could be affecting you negatively — not because they’re bad, but simply because they don’t offer you many laughs. Laughing as much as possible while at home can soothe all the tension you’re feeling and improve your mood in the long run. Not only that, but it might be able to boost your self-esteem.
Now, if you’re having trouble finding things around you funny, you might need to work on your sense of humor. Try and find movies, TV shows, greeting cards, and other things that seem funny to you. You can go to a comedy club where everyone around you will be laughing. You can also try laughing about your own life and not take things extremely seriously when they aren’t that crucial.
Many people will grab sugary, carbohydrate-rich snacks that will make them feel better on cold, winter days. However, the high that these products offer will quickly fade away and a slump will follow. What you need to do instead is look for foods containing vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin.”
Also, foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, lean proteins, berries, and dark chocolate can improve your mood over time. You just have to start adding those to your daily or weekly intake and give your body a chance to start feeling better.
9. Reduce your screen time.
The more you stay indoors, the more time you spend in front of a screen watching shows and browsing Instagram. So, the first thing to do is set a limit on the time you spend on your devices. You can either limit the number of hours you spend in front of a screen or incorporate device-free timesduring your day.
This small change will help your mental health immensely and reduce your stress and sadness levels. What you can do during your device-free times is go out for a walk, meditate, or arrange a call or meet-up with your close friends.