♫ Happy, happy, happy, happy ♫
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, affects approximately 6% of the US population. It usually looks like this: You slow down, you have a hard time waking up in the morning, your energy level decreases, you tend to eat more sugary starchy food, you gain weight, you have a hard time concentrating, and you feel less like you can relax and spend time with friends and family.
It’s actually far more common in women than it is in men – but it can and does affect all of us (even if we’re happy people). It’s thought to be related to the darker, wintery months, when there is less sunlight.
So we thought we’d give you a few different ways to fight SAD:
Vitamin D. Where there’s less sun, there’s less vitamin D. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for people between 1-70 years old. You can find vitamin D in cod liver oil (500 IU per 5g teaspoon), salmon (511 IU per 4 oz serving size), Tofu (138 IU per 3 oz serving), mushrooms (954 IU per 84 g), and more.
If lack of sunlight is the cause, then more sunlight is a pretty obvious fix. If you live in Stockholm, like I do, then getting in the sun can be tough, given that in the winter months it rises around 8.30 am and starts setting around 3 pm. That being said, where there’s a will, there’s a way. My solution is to take a walk around lunchtime when the sun is still in the sky, for some fresh air, a mood-boost, and the perfect way to clear my head.
There’s a song in one of my favorite films ‘Singing in the Rain’ called “Make ’em laugh”.
“You start off by pretending
You’re a dancer with grace
You wiggle ’till they’re
Giggling all over the place
And then you get a great big custard pie in the face
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh
Make ’em laugh”
It’s a great song, and I love that in the film they just laugh the whole way through, but laughter is more than just laughter. Some studies suggest that doing something that boosts your mood for a short period of time, might just help boost the serotonin levels in your brain.
You know one of the things you’re less likely to feel like doing when suffering from SAD? Exercise. You know one of the things that would help you massively if you were suffering from SAD? Exercise. It’s a catch-22, but it works. Physical activity has been shown to boost your brain’s levels of serotonin and keep them that way hours after a workout. Not only that, but people who exercise regularly sleep better, which means you’ll have better sleep without having to sleep longer. Go on, get out, get moving, and do it often.
And, remember. If you are struggling with SAD, don’t hesitate to contact your health care.
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
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