Grey, Grey…Go Away! Seasonal Affective Disorder
Are these grey, cloudy days getting you down?
You are not alone, my friend.
While the mild weather is soooo good and such a relief, especially after the bitter cold of a Saskatchewan winter…day after day of grey skies can be hard on a person.
A prolonged lack of sunlight can take it’s toll on even the hardiest among us.
You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it’s symptoms are very real. People all over the world can experience it, but it’s most common in areas that are either far north or far south of the equator.
The reduction in sunlight can:
- disrupt our circadian rhythm (our biological clock)
- cause a drop in our Serotonin levels (a brain neurochemical that influences our mood
- decrease our levels of Melatonin (a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle)
Signs or symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder can range from mild to severe and may include
- feeling grumpy or out of sorts,
- a depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
- a lack of energy
- difficulty concentrating,
- changes in sleep
- a loss of pleasure in activities you once loved
- and even thoughts of death or suicide.
Some people experience a feeling of heaviness in their arms and legs, frequent oversleeping, a craving for carbohydrates and weight gain. Sometimes the change in mood can cause relationship issues.
The good news is that we don’t have to suffer endlessly…we can do something about it!
If you experience mild to moderate symptoms, here are some ways to improve or lift your mood:
- Spend time outside
- Exercise (even a 20 minute walk will help)
- Avoid alcohol (which is a depressant)
- Practice relaxation exercises (mediation, deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation) especially before bed to help you to sleep.
Surround yourself with color. Think:
(choose bright colored clothing rather than blacks or dark colors)
(buy some fresh flowers Tulips in a variety of beautiful colors are available at some grocery stores right now)
(add a new screen saver with color or pictures of ocean, palm trees, etc. to your computer screen or your phone)
(brightly colored vegetables, salads, try new recipes to get out of a food rut)
- Drink Milk.
- Take Vitamin D.
- Get Social. Plan a night out with friends or family to get you out of the house.
- Say something nice or do something nice for someone.
- Enjoy the power of touch. Give or get hugs. Use your extended health benefits to get a massage. Make love.
- Insert joy into your day.
- Monitor your thoughts…if you find you are thinking negatively, acknowledge it and shift your perspective to something more positive. Practicing gratitude is a wonderful tool for this.
If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, a combination of the following can be extremely helpful.
- Book a counselling session to talk it through and learn effective techniques to help you manage or eliminate the symptoms. Any of our excellent Counsellors can help you with this.
- Try a Light Therapy. A light therapy box mimics outdoor light. Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD. You can buy one on Amazon or at your local drug store. Here’s a link with more information on what to look for in a Light Therapy Box
- Talk to your Family Doctor. Medication in the form of an antidepressant may be helpful if experiencing severe symptoms.
As the saying goes “Sometimes we have to be our own sunshine” so if you are experience symptoms of SAD and take some positive action to make yourself feel better and to improve your mood.
Feel free to sing along with me 🙂
“Grey skies are gonna clear up, Put on a happy face, Wipe off the clouds and cheer up, Put on a happy face”
Cheers to sunshine and spring!