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4 Tips for Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder This Year

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs in fall and winter. It’s caused by a neurochemical imbalance prompted by lessened exposure to sunlight. Because of stress many of us are experiencing from COVID-19 and the overall rollercoaster ride of 2020, more people could experience it this year. Here are a few ways to fight it and support your mental health during this challenging time.

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1. Light Therapy

In addition to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, anti-depressant medication and Vitamin D, the most helpful SAD therapy is light therapy, which has been around since the 1980s. Early light therapy boxes were like early computers. Heavy, gigantic and thousands of dollars. Now, quality boxes can be found smaller than an iPad and under $40. Check out the 10 top-rated therapy light boxes for 2020. Daylight savings can also trigger SAD. Among light therapy products are alarm clocks that simulate the sunrise.

2. Get Outside

Put on your favorite sweater and spend some time outside. Just 10 minutes of sun on your face and hands can trigger your body to manufacture some of that all-important Vitamin D. While there’s still debate about whether sunscreen affects your production of Vitamin D, all things considered, wear that sunscreen! If it’s not sunny, well, still get out there. Walking and spending time in nature lifts your mood – pandemic or no pandemic.

3. Get Your Vitamin D

Salmon, tuna, egg yolks, cow’s milk, orange juice and fortified cereals are good sources of that all-important Vitamin DOmega-3 fatty acids such as those found in salmon and other fish and in certain nuts and grains can also help with symptoms of SAD or any other depression. Supplements are great too.

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4. Go Hygge

Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish philosophy of living, known for its emotional, physical and social benefits. Hygge gets Danes through their high latitude, dim days of winter. Simply put, it’s a method for optimizing the coziness of your space, your food, your activities. Try putting it into practice this fall/winter season.

Also, for a good read on how other Scandinavians handle SAD, including sun mirrors and booking time in light clinics, check out this Atlantic article.

Don’t forget about all the usual ways to fight depression – eating healthy, exercise, remaining social (even if it’s via Zoom and small, socially distant outdoor meetups), doing things for others, practicing mediation and giving yourself some compassion.

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