3 Ways to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder


Seasonal Affective DisorderSeasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people every year as the weather grows colder and the days become shorter. During winter months, it is common for people in many areas of the world to spend weeks without getting much sunlight. As a result to less sunlight, many people feel symptoms similar to depression. Some of the common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are fatigue, sadness and a lack of interest in normal activities. For most people with SAD, these symptoms begin to disappear as the spring and summer months approach. Treatment options for Seasonal Affective Disorder include a combination of medications, therapy and behavioral changes. In addition to these methods, the following three creative strategies can also help SAD sufferers to find relief from their symptoms.

Get Moving

Exercise is well-known for treating a variety of mental and physical disorders. During the winter months, it can be hard to get up and out of the house for exercise. However, an invigorating workout can be just what a person needs to chase the blues away. If it is too cold outside, a person can sign up for a gym membership or a fitness class. Joining a sports team is also a great way to incorporate some fun into exercise. By working out with other people, those affected by SAD can also increase their social opportunities. This can also help to relieve feelings of depression and sadness.

Get a Light Source

Even when the sun stays tucked away behind the clouds, there are still several ways for a person to get more light. First, they can go outside during the brightest part of the day and spend a few minutes soaking up the rays. Second, a person can use a specially designed light box that mimics the affects of sunlight on the body. These light boxes are frequently used in photo-therapy sessions to help ease the symptoms of SAD. Finally, a person should try to squeeze as much light into their day as possible by placing their chair near windows, opening up the curtains and taking short walks outside. By using a combination of methods to receive light, a person will be more likely to receive enough sun to cause changes in their body’s chemistry that can help it to fight off SAD symptoms.

Go on a Vacation

During the winter, many people have time off from work to celebrate holidays and other special occasions. If possible, this time can be used to take a vacation to a warmer, sunnier environment. While a trip to a tropical beach is always ideal, a person only needs to travel to a place with more sun. Spending time away from home can also be a mood-booster as a person can take a break from their responsibilities and take part in fun activities. If it is not possible to travel to a distant location, a mini-vacation can also provide relief from the symptoms of SAD. Getting away for a weekend or even spending a few hours pretending to be a tourist in their own hometown can help a person to break out of their rut and start feeling better.

When the signs of SAD begin to appear, it is time to take action. Fortunately, there are many creative things that a person can do to supplement their prescribed treatment plan. By spending time each day participating in an exercise program, getting outside and into the sun and even taking a vacation to another location, a person can take action so that they can maintain control over the symptoms caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Brenda Collins is a psychologist and guest author at Best Masters in Psychology, a site with guides and resources to help prospective students evaluate top-ranked online masters in psychology programs.

    • Amy
    • December 2, 2012

    All great tips especially for us living in the PNW. 9 months of gray days each year makes a lot of SAD sufferers!

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