(BlackDoctor.org) — It may get dark earlier, but that doesn’t mean your mood can’t be light. Try these fast fixes to keep you giddy, not gloomy this winter.
Don’t Be SAD
Do the dark days of fall and winter make you want to hibernate indoors and pig out on comfort foods until spring? You may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, usually in winter.
Other symptoms include fatigue, lack of interest, inability to concentrate, and irritability.
“Some people describe it as only ‘living’ during the sunny months and the rest of the time they feel shut down, idle, waiting for spring, enduring life in general,” says Norman Rosenthal, MD, a psychiatrist who first described SAD and author of Winter Blues.
The disorder is four times more common in women than in men, and people in their twenties and forties appear most susceptible, he notes. Luckily, there are easy lifestyle solutions that can give you a lift. Try one of these the next time you start feeling blue.
Light Up Your Life
Get outside every day, even if it’s just for short walk in the morning or at lunch. Take a vacation to a sunny spot to break up the dark winter months. Dr. Rosenthal suggests light therapy — using a light box that mimics natural daylight to help you feel more energetic and cheerful. Look for one ranging from 2,500 to 10,000 LUX (a measure of human brightness perception) of full spectrum light and follow your doctor’s instruction on how to use it (sitting a couple of feet away for 30 minutes in the morning is common).
“Most everyone can benefit from light therapy,” Dr. Rosenthal says.
Avoid it if you take a medication that makes you sensitive to light and ask your doc about other treatments like talk therapy and antidepressants instead.
Sweat It Out