Friday, January 11, 2013

Beat the Winter Blues

It's that time after the holiday season when it's dark early at night, it's cold, it's wet, the wind is howling, the snow is falling, and all you want to do is hibernate until Spring.

Don't let the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder get the best of you.   It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to just stay in bed, or curled up on the couch.  Heck, I'm guilty of it myself sometimes.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can affect anyone.  Those of us in Canada, with long winter nights, are at a greater risk of SAD.  Feelings of hopelessness, appetite changes (increase or decrease) increased sleep & more naps, less energy, sluggish movements, social withdrawl, loss of activities that usually make you happy, irritability and even suicide ideations.

Doctors can't test us for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but your doctor can make a diagnosis by talking to you about your feelings and changes in your behaviour.  You know yourself better than anyone else.  Therapy can provide some relief, by expressing how you are feeling, and we're definitely here 24/7 to talk to you about all of these things at 613-238-3311.

But how can you get through these months, waiting for Spring, warm sunshine, flip flops, swimming and freckles to come your way?

Eat healthy.  Tests have been done that people suffering from SAD, showing that when they ate healthier foods, they felt better about things.  Stick to your four food groups, and everything in moderation.  Bright foods like fruits & veggies are an instant mood improver.

Sleep just the right amount.  8-9 hours is ideal for a good night's sleep. 

If you're on medications, review them with your doctor to make sure you're taking them the right way, at the right time of day.  I recently found out that one of my own doses is better taken in the morning than at night like I was. 

Exercise.  I don't mean run a full marathon in the snow.  Like to snowshoe?  Cross country ski?  Downhill ski?  Simply walk?  Grab a friend, co-worker, loved one, or even the dog and get out for at least 30 minutes a day for fresh air.  It will release endorphins that make you happy, and fill your lungs with clean air.  The Vitamin D from the sunshine is essential.

Avoid alcohol and drugs.  When dealing with depression, these can be a crutch to get you through.  Do your best to steer clear, and try the above tips instead.

Most people live with Seasonal Affective Disorder their entire lives.  It's manageable when you find something that works for you.

If you have thoughts of suicide, please call and talk to one of our Crisis Line Specialists.  We are here to listen, to help and support you.

Stay happy & healthy this Winter season.  Have any other tips?  Share them in the comments section below!

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