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Dec 11

Don’t Be S.A.D. this winter!

Posted By iamincontrol | December 11, 2014

Sad. Isn’t that how we all feel to some extent during the winter, as the days get shorter and shorter? As we keep adding layers of clothing to leave the house, and spend as little time outside in the frigid cold as possible?

But being ‘SAD’ is a different story than just being lower-case sad. SAD stands for ‘seasonal affective disorder,’ a type of temporary depression that occurs during specific times of the year—most commonly in the fall and winter. It is estimated that 10-20% of people in the United States experience SAD each year and that it is more common in females.

Although many people—especially in northern parts of the U.S. like Iowa, where the winters are long and cold– get the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder hits a little harder. Symptoms of SAD include drops in energy, weight gain, sleeping a lot more than usual, and not wanting to be social.

The following are tips adapted from the Huffington Post to help combat SAD. These suggestions can help anyone feeling a little blue in the winter—but if you are feeling depressed, don’t be afraid see a doctor or counselor about your symptoms.

  • Get outside. Yes, even though it’s cold, try to get outside at lunch, open period, or after school. Natural sunlight will improve your mood, and since the days are so short during the winter, it’s important to grab the sun while you can during the day!
  • Get moving! As Michelle Obama says, ‘Let’s move!’  Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins that will naturally increase your mood. It’s also a good way to burn stress, and if you’re exercising in a gym or as part of a sports team or club, it provides social time– which also helps with depression.
  • Get social. Especially during the Thanksgiving and winter breaks, when school is out and it’s tempting to sit around at home and watch Netflix, try to get out of the house. Go to a movie or dinner with friends. It will help to get you out of a funk.
  • Sleep well. Although it may be hard to wake up every morning in the darkness, or to stay awake after school when the sun is already setting, resist the temptation to sleep late or nap throughout the day. Sleeping more than you usually do will only make you feel more sluggish and tired overall.
  • Be patient. Winter in Iowa is long, and fighting SAD may take time– but embrace the activities and people who make you feel better. It will pay off in the long run. If your symptoms do not improve, don’t be afraid to seek professional help—SAD, like depression, is a real disorder and can be treated!