The clocks went back last weekend, and while for many of us that just means it’s dark out frighteningly early, there’s another large group of the Canadian (and global) population who are about to start dealing in earnest with an annual beast: seasonal affective disorder. Known as S.A.D., seasonally-induced depression hits women in their twenties, thirties and forties particularly hard. BUMMER FOR US, She Does the City demographic.
Perhaps these symptoms sound familiar: sleep problems, carbohydrate cravings (hi), irritability, anxiety, increased appetite and loss of libido. Sufferers also end up more susceptible to run of the mill winter illnesses like colds and flus, because their immune systems are operating at a lower capacity. If you’re feeling these symptoms or even just a few of them, here are some things you can do to kick the S.A.Ds to the greyish, sludge-y curb (ughhhh winter sucks):
Keep active/get outside
Sure, it can be attempting to approach the coming winter like a bear nearing hibernation time–sleep, eat, cover body in thick layer of fur, sleep, eat, repeat–but it’s important to keep your body movin’ as much as possible, and preferably outside. Do some stretches when you wake up, get off the streetcar a few stops early, or leave the office to grab your morning coffee. Anything that gets you movin’ in the fresh air is helpful.
Related: lighten up
Exposure to sunlight (what little there is) is important. There’s a reason that the more northern the country, the higher the rate of reported cases of seasonally-induced depression. If you’re finding it hard with work and life to make time to be outside during the tiiiiiiny window of nice sunlight in a day, consider one of those UV lamps. There are tons of models out there.
The next few months may feel like a blur of parties and events you’re not sure you want to attend. Make time in your schedule to commit to a few of them, at least. Being around friends and loved ones is a cheap and healthy way to encourage endorphin production and increase one’s overall sense of well being.
Keep a regular sleep schedule
As regular as you can manage, anyway. Sleeping enough and feeling rested can help combat a slew of S.A.D. side effects.
Put down the plain white bread with butter. Vitamins, supplements, and a healthy diet in general can dramatically increase your energy and happiness levels. Things like anemia can also get worse this time of year, and in turn worsen symptoms of seasonal depression like fatigue, so it’s extra-important to be up on your nutrition game. Take care of your bod, take care of your brain.
Speak to someone
Sometimes all the healthy food, exercise, and futuristic happiness-promoting lamps in the world can’t compete with voicing your problems to a sympathetic listener. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or counsellor, knowing there’s someone you can turn to can make all the difference when you’re in a post-October slump.
It’s gonna be okay, guys. The winter holidays are on their way, and Toronto doooooes look kind of beautiful in the snow. if you need to take a day in to watch Lilo and Stitch and talk to some stew about your feelings, that’s okay too. You can take a moment for your S.A.D. because you know that it, like winter, is temporary. Stay warm, safe, and happy, amigos!