5 tips to help you cope with seasonal affective disorder


Did you know an estimated two to 10 per cent of Canadians will experience seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) in their lifetime?

Research has indicated that women are much more likely to be diagnosed than men, and people who live in the northern hemisphere (like us!) are more likely to experience SAD because of the amount of daylight we receive.

October 10 marked World Mental Health Day, and we’ve compiled some tips to help you combat SAD as we enter the winter months. Most of the tips are also applicable for general mental health! Check them out:

5 tips to help you cope with seasonal affective disorder

1) Get outside every day.

There are plenty of documented health benefits to spending time outdoors. Try heading outside to get some vitamin D during the day when the sun is at its most powerful (and don’t forget your sunscreen). Engage in a little forest bathing—aka, immersing yourself in nature and taking it all in with your senses. Fall is the perfect time for a hike or stroll in a local park!

When you’re indoors, you can also arrange your home to maximize your sunlight exposure, like keeping your curtains open or moving your desk beside a window.

2) Consider using a SAD light.

Light therapy, in which you sit next to a special artificial light that mimics sunlight for about 30 minutes a day, can be a helpful tool for many experiencing symptoms of SAD. (One of our team members swears by it!) You can even use these lights at select Winnipeg Public Library locations if you’d like to try it before purchasing one. Make sure to consult with your doctor before you use light therapy.

3) Move your body.

It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise when you are feeling tired, depressed or otherwise off. By moving your body, you’ll release endorphins, reduce stress and boost your energy levels—not to mention benefit from improved sleep! Try to find an exercise routine you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick with it in the long run. If the mere thought of exercise seems overwhelming, make it a goal to take a brisk walk over your lunch hour, especially as the days get shorter.

4) Get enough sleep.

Winding down before bed is key to a good sleep, so put away those electronics and make yourself a cozy, inviting space as part of your sleep routine. Bonus: Check out our recent blog post on creating a Sunday-night routine, which can help you feel better prepared for the week ahead before you head to bed on Sunday.

5) Talk to someone.

It’s not a sign of weakness to reach out for help—it’s a sign of strength. If you’re feeling depressed and could use someone to talk to, book an appointment with a mental health professional or find a local support group. You can also look into tools like cognitive-behavioural therapy, which can be an effective treatment for depression.

Seeking support for mental health issues is nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re looking for additional resources, check out organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association. Please note: We are not medical professionals and you should always consult with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of SAD or other mental health issues.

You’ve got this!

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