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Cold Weather & Feeling Low? It Could be SAD

Cold Weather & Feeling Low? It Could be SAD

While a lot of people welcome winter with extra 5-minutes in bed and a hot cuppa in the morning, some fret over shorter periods of sunlight, colder and foggier days. Well, reduced sunlight and chill in the air might make people feel tired or low, but if it recurs at the same time each year, it could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Also known as seasonal depression, SAD affects sleep, mood energy levels and appetite, taking a toll on the mental, social and physical well-being. 

Starting as mild winter blues, symptoms of SAD usually begins in the fall or winter when the days are shorter and less bright. The severity of SAD varies from person to person but some of the common symptoms include:

  • Feeling angry, irritable and anxious 
  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and daily activities
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair
  • Sudden unintentional change in appetite and weight 
  • Low self-esteem and thoughts of self-harm 

In most cases, clinical diagnosis of the seasonal affective disorder is possible after experiencing similar symptoms for two or more consecutive years. While the exact cause is uncertain, multiple theories attribute shorter days and reduced exposure to sunlight as the reason that triggers the symptoms of SAD. Recovery takes time but adopting a few healthy habits can help in managing seasonal affective disorder effectively. Here’s a list of habits that you can include in your daily schedule making it fun and healthier:

Make sure you step out in the Sun
Reduced exposure to sunlight in winters affects the production of melatonin and serotonin. This in turn results in low energy levels, change in sleep patterns as well as feelings of sadness. To combat this, try including small dosage of sunlight like short outdoor walks and allowing more natural light in your work or living space that boosts serotonin levels and improves mood. 

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day 
Regular exercise especially in the natural daylight boosts serotonin and endorphins that improve sleep, making one feel more energetic and positive. Try including around 30 to 60 minutes of rhythmic exercises like swimming, walking or Zumba that relieves stress and anxiety while improving sleep.

Add nutrition to your meals 
Having nutritious well-balanced meals is the best way to boost energy levels and ensure overall good health. SAD increases craving for sugary and carbohydrate-rich food. Add more fruits, green vegetables, dairy and fibre-rich food that ensures proper intake of vitamins, calcium and protein. Proper nutrition and hydration help in boosting serotonin levels in the body and minimizes the symptoms. 

Communicate and socialize with friends 
Feeling down can make it hard to socialize, but close relationships help in reducing isolation and managing SAD. Spending time with friends and family, joining a club or volunteering in a community activity reinforces the feeling of belongingness and improves mood.

Take steps for stress management
The first step to managing stress is to figure out the things that add to your stress, be it increased workload or unfulfilling relationships. Try including stress management techniques like yoga, meditation and aromatherapy to scale down the symptoms of SAD.

By: Navreet Kaur | on 2020-12-24

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