iStock_000069002471_LargeSeasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) is a type of depression that impacts millions of people each year.

It generally kicks in as the days get shorter and can last until early spring. When it gets dark by 4:00 p.m. it is easy to get S.A.D. Here in the Green Mountain State, we experience long and cold winters. It is important to be mindful of what you need to feel healthy and happy amidst the icy roads and sub-zero temperatures.

Here are some tips to help you get through it:

Brighten Up Your Day

During the winter months, getting enough sunlight can be a difficult task. Think about ways that you can incorporate some more light into your life. Do you find yourself drawing the shades during the daytime? What kind of lighting do you have in your home or workplace? There are many options available to help brighten things up. Invest in a “dawn-simulating” lamp to wake you up in the morning. Put a lamp on your desk at work. Try to get outside and into the natural sunlight as much as possible. Many people find that little adjustments can go a long way towards improving your mood!

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is defined as “the habits and practices that are conducive to sleeping well on a regular basis.” Sleep can have a major impact on depression, including seasonal affective disorder. Paying attention to your sleep, and practicing habits that promote sleep can actually help to alleviate some of the symptoms of S.A.D.

Some common tips for promoting adequate sleep include:

  • Set a sleep schedule that allows you to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. Have you ever noticed how staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends disrupts your sleep during the week?
  • Make sure to exercise, but try not to exercise late in the day. Use the hour or so before bedtime as quiet time. Try reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to your favorite calming music!
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine prior to bed. All of these substances can have an effect on your body’s ability to enter a deep sleep. Many people use alcohol as a way to wind down at night, but it may actually wake you up in the middle of the night as the alcohol wears off!

Get Outside and Exercise

Not only can exercise help to improve your sleep, but it can also improve your mood. Find your favorite outdoor activity and give it a go! Go skiing. Break out that old pair of snowshoes and go on an outdoor adventure. Take your dog for a walk. Outdoor activities will help to keep you active, provide you with more sunlight and can be healing for both body and mind.

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