Are Your Winter Blues Getting Serious? You Might Be SAD
Have you been feelin’ a little down recently? Super lethargic or unmotivated? Are you having difficulty focusing or concentrating at work (more than just your usual Monday morning #stillasleep vibes), sleeping badly or, getting snappy at your co-workers/lover/cat/nightly cable news?
Well, it might be more than just the winter blues that are getting you down. You may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is actually not just a thing that Donald Drumpf keeps shouting out in his tweets (oy).
SAD is thought to be a type of depression that changes with the seasons, particularly, the change from “oh, I think a light sweater should be fine” to “I think if I go outside to get a coffee I might actually freeze to death”.
There is still some research to be done into the cause of SAD (and some recent studies have thrown doubt at the diagnosis all together, so stay woke), but scientists think that the decrease in sunlight during the winter months could be a major culprit. Lack of sun can disrupt your body’s internal clock, leading to a drop in serotonin (a chemical in your brain that makes you happy) and melatonin (a chemical that helps you snooze). Oh, and SAD most commonly affects young women (will the joys of being a young woman never cease?!).
But don’t despair! There are some really practical steps you can take to avoid getting SAD (and just survive the rest of winter, generally):
Brighten up your space:
You might be trapped in your apartment by the weather, but that doesn’t mean you have give into those gloomy dungeon vibes. Open your curtains, clear anything away that’s blocking the light (aka dead plants), and make yourself a nice little space by the window to scroll the ‘gram / do work / read that book you meant to read last summer. If you don’t have any natural light in your apartment (S/O to all my ladies in NYC), find a café with big windows and do your ‘gram scrolling there instead.
I know, I know-- it’s February, but keep layering up sweatshirts until you’ve created your own terry-cloth cocoon and get some fresh air! Call a gf/bf/pet, layer up, and go to the park. Cut a few laps of the block on the way to get your morning coffee or sit on a park bench to eat your lunch. Fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for your mood (it’s #science).
Sweat it out
What self-care list would be complete without a dedication to the joys and benefits of exercise? I hear you. Going to the gym can feel overwhelming when all you feel like is putting a comforter over your head and watching The Gilmore Girls, it’s even worse. So forget about the gym. Take a yoga class you know won’t be hard-core or call up your aforementioned gf/bf/pet for a stroll (to get snacks to eat while watching The Gilmore Girls). Another option? Download an app that has yoga or stretching workouts (I’m loving Aaptiv) and get active without even leaving your house.
Ur so ~alternative~
There are some natural medicine options for treating SAD, but NOTE, herbal supplements are not monitored by the FDA, so do your research before committing to expensive colored magic powders and always talk to your doctor if you are unsure (this basically goes for everything). St. John’s Wort is sometimes used as a natural remedy for depression; Melatonin supplements can help regulate your sleep cycles; and Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil tablets/flaxseed oil) are good for your brain.
Meditation (check our THINX guide over here), massage therapy (yes, getting a 15-minute foot massage as an add-on to an overdue pedicure totally counts as therapy), and acupuncture might also help combat SAD symptoms.
Call ur girlfriend
When you are feeling generally shitty, it’s easy to withdraw into your solo-SAD cocoon. Of course, solo-chill-time is super important, but it’s also important to keep connecting with the people around you that make you happy. If you really can’t deal with leaving your couch, get a friend or two over to drink tea and stare at your phones together. If you can muster up the energy, take a stab at the activities you never do in summer because the weather is too nice. Sometimes looking at some beautiful #art or going to see a big-fun-dumb movie can be just the thing to kick your bad mood.
OK, so when should I see my doctor?
It’s normal to have some days when you feel down and generally blah. But if you’re struggling to keep up with your normal routines, have a history of mental illness (personally or in your family), or are having hopeless or suicidal thoughts, it’s really important to ask for help. Talk to someone you trust, or make an appointment to see your doctor or mental health provider.
If you or someone who know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.