I have lived in Wisconsin most of my life, and though it is a breathtaking state, it has an ungodly long winter season. Around February and March, I would get abnormally tired, sleep a lot, and have overwhelming feelings of sadness. Not that my life was at all depressing, I had a very good and stable home life, but by February, my spirit just felt heavy. I could see the correlation, but I just thought it was a normal thing. It wasn’t until my high school year when I visited my grandma in Florida for spring break that I really noticed it. That week in the intense, consistent sunshine, I had an unusual amount of energy and felt giddy. The change in my behavior was almost overnight, and it was then that I began to realize that maybe my “February blues” could be fixed.
Of course, I was experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), though I didn’t know it at the time. In extreme cases, you may need medications for it, but through lifestyle changes in my own life, I was able to preemptively control the onset of my SAD. Here are some of the changes I made that benefited me:
- Regular Exercise- I got a YMCA membership and worked out every other day. It was tough at first because I felt slothish and low energy, but regular exercise increases your natural energy potential, warms you up, and relieves anxiety or stress build up. Plus, and maybe this is all in my head, it made me feel warmer in general during the winter.
- Brightening the Home-I keep my blinds down all the time, because I don’t like my neighbors looking in and seeing what I am doing. But, blinds also block out sunlight! Leaving the blinds open, sunlight brightens the house and naturally warms it. Also, painting some rooms bright hues or painting accent walls brought color into my home. Also, my friend got me a suncatcher for my window, and the crystal ornament catches the sunlight and refracts it into rainbow splashes all over the room. It’s elegant and also brought bright colorful light into my home!
- Get Outside- I read one article that said that taking a short walk outside during the winters months can significantly reduce your SAD. I’m not sure on the scientific details, but it has helped me a lot! I don’t know if it’s the fact that you’re out in the natural sunlight or the fresh air and exercise, but I have been taking 10-15 minutes walks outside the past year or so and noticed a significant change!
There a lot of things within your control to improve your Seasonal Affective Disorder; you just have to experiment! But also know, if you experience severe SAD, you should seek the counsel of a medical profession and perhaps explore the options of medications. But, it can be fixed!