We were blessed with an outrageously warm summer this year, and many of us are ready for the cooler temperatures and longer nights which signal the beginning of the autumn season. Unfortunately, not all of us look forward to autumn, particularly those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Autumn is a subtle and unsettling reminder of the long, cold, and dark months ahead, and the toll these months will take on them physically, emotionally, and mentally. Back in February, we published a blog about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how it is often confused with the winter blues (www.everydayhealth.com/depression/preparing-for-seasonal-affective-disorder.aspx), and today in the first days of fall we at the Oasis Movement want to help you get ready to deal with the effects of SAD before they take hold.
1.) Phase Shifting: Most psychotherapists agree that when the days begin getting shorter those who suffer from SAD would benefit from Phase Shifting, which is essentially preparing your internal clock for the shorter days and longer nights ahead. “One way to prepare is to set your internal clock [earlier] each morning… Starting in late autumn, prepare and eat your breakfast under bright light.” (a 10 000 lux light bulb or box is suggested) “You should try to do this at about 7 a.m. for about 30 minutes.” (1) The light tricks your body into thinking the days are longer which in turn will alleviate the effects of SAD
2.) Get Organized and Maintain a routine: Keeping an organized work and home environment as well as sticking to a schedule will help relieve those feelings of being lost and overwhelmed. Many who suffer from SAD describe feeling crushed by feelings of disorganization and lost sense of purpose in those winter months. This will help.
3.) Stay Active: We cannot stress this enough! If you begin a workout routine now in the fall it will be easier to maintain in the winter. While it is difficult to begin any kind of workout routine while you are suffering from SAD, it will be far easier to maintain one. Being active releases higher levels of dopamine the effects of which are felt long after your workout
4.) Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is critical as it effects one’s overall mood and energies.
5.) Healthy Diet: Avoiding refined sugar and heavily processed food will help to eliminate erratic energy levels (Feelings of high energy quickly followed by low energy). When you body is healthy is can better deal with the stressors of SAD.
6.) Keep in touch with your medical practitioner: Even by taking all of these precautions be conscious of your triggers and seek help when you feel your condition is getting out of hand.
The underlying theme here is routine, by creating and establishing healthy routines now in the fall you will reap the benefits in the winter. Remember, it takes 30 days to create a habit so give yourself time to fall into your new routine.