People laugh when they see me sitting in front of my light box. But SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder is really not very funny.
What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
According to the mental health charity MIND:
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season. It is a recognised mental health disorder. Most of us are affected by the change in seasons – it is normal to feel more cheerful and energetic when the sun is shining and the days are longer, or to find that you eat more or sleep longer in winter.”
And this year SAD has hit me hard and fast. Last night I went to bed at 9 and even after 9 hours of sleep I still feel tired. This morning I also feel anxious and shaky with racing thoughts and racing heart rate. Welcome to my world when my brain biochemistry doesn’t feel like it’s firing off properly.
What can you do?
So what do I do to manage this, since total hibernation is not an option?
A light box
Different people need to sit in front of one for varying lengths of time. I find my little portable blue light box put by the laptop whilst I’m working – for say an hour a day, does help.
Keep your blood sugar balanced
The fatigue and mood swings that you might experience with SAD could mean you are reaching for the coffee, alcohol or sugary starchy foods to feel better, but that’s just a quick fix that could cause your blood sugar to spike up or shoot down ultimately making you feel worse.
A Healthy Diet
Healthy brain needs good quality protein, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and essential omega 3 fatty acids (among other things). I personally find a higher protein / fat diet with good quality carbs (i.e. not sugar) keeps me more balanced.
Supplements or Medication
You may also find you need to take extra supplements such as 5-HTP or to go on medication. Remember, you still have to function.
Even a little gentle walking at lunch time can help. Or maybe you need a more strenuous workout. Do whatever works for you.
and that might mean you need a little more in winter – however don’t sleep so long that you are also sacrificing other self care like exercise and good food.