Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is when your mood changes with the seasons. As someone who is bipolar, I usually start to ascend towards mania in spring/summer and descend towards depression in fall/winter.
For many years, I didn’t know why this was. I just chalked my mood changes up to not having positive childhood experiences during the holidays growing up. I’m sure these experiences when I was younger played a part, but I didn’t know that this was a disorder that affected 10-20% of the population.
Now that seasonal depression is something that’s on my radar, I’m self aware and prepare for it accordingly. I’d like to share some things that have worked for me to self-regulate and make the best of the holidays.
1. Know/Listen to Your Internal Clock
Seasons don’t just have ebbs and flows, our bodies do too. Our internal clocks (bio-rhythm) responds to these ebbs and flows of the earth. Some of us are just more in tune we these seasonal/magnetic shifts in our environment.
To better understand how your internal clock works and how it may respond to the seasons/rhythms of the earth, I HIGHLY recommend you discover your personal chronotype (I’m a wolf). You can discover yours HERE.
Knowing how your internal clock works is important because certain chronotypes are more affected by different environmental phenomenon.
For instance, one chronotype suffers more profoundly from premenstrual symptoms. Another is thrown for a loop during daylight savings time. One specific chronotype is especially susceptible to the winter blues.
“Wolves, the chronotype associated with openness, avoidance coping strategy, and mood disorders like depression even in warm months, are most likely to suffer from SAD in the wintertime.”-Michael Breus, PhD
2. Don’t Hibernate/Act Like It’s Summer
When the climate starts to cool down and get gloomy, fight back on your propensity to hibernate. Monitor the weather closely and find time to get outside for some natural vitamin D (Especially, in the morning).
As weather permits, go for walks or take a light jog. Evening if it’s raining, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Grandma may tell you that you’re going to get yourself sick by exposing yourself to the elements, but that’s been proven to be a myth. Just make sure you dress accordingly.
3. Bump Up Your Vitamin D Intake
Those affected by seasonal affective disorder have a harder time absorbing vitamin D, so it doesn’t hurt to boost your vitamin D intake through supplementation.
My favorite way to do this is to take some Emergen-C post morning stroll. The immune+ drink mix has vitamin C, D, and Zinc.
4. Embrace The Gloom/Limit Artificial Light Exposure
We must act like it’s summer while acknowledging that it’s fall/winter. In acting like it’s summer, we aren’t putting on “rose colored glasses.”
Some research suggests that too much artificial light in the winter causes SAD. The science isn’t strong, but it’s important to understand how artificial light influences our sleep paterns during the winter anyway.
A good rule of thumb is to start limiting exposure to artificial light within 2 hours of going to sleep. Use your phone in sleep mode to limit blue light exposure and stop using tech an hour before sleeping.
Read, journal, or plan your next day instead of playing on your phone right before bedding down.
Something that has helped me is showering before bed.
Don’t Be Shy!
Let me know in the comments below what remedies have helped you combat the winter blues. If you’d like to receive more great content like this directly to your inbox, subscribe/follow below.
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