While we love that it’s finally starting to feel like fall, less sunshine can start to take its toll, especially for those of us who deal with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression. The good news? There are a lot of ways to help combat and even help prevent the disruptive seasonal symptoms. In recognition of World Mental Health Day, we’ve put together some tips to help you get out of that funk:
Natural daylight can help maintain your body’s circadian rhythm—that 24-hour cycle responsible for regulating sleep patterns. Exposing yourself to natural sunlight, especially in the morning, can tell your body to stop producing melatonin. Less melatonin means less sleepiness.
It’s no secret how good exercise is for your overall health. It can improve your mood, increase self-esteem, and alleviate symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Take that, seasonal affective disorder.
Cool weather means warm foods and full bellies. But while turning to comfort food may temporarily increase serotonin levels and offer temporary happiness, eating poorly can actually make seasonal depression worse.
Insomnia and oversleeping can be signs and causes of depression. By maintaining a regular sleep routine—getting up and going to bed at approximately the same time everyday—you can improve your health and mood this fall and help prevent the winter blues before they start.
Break away from your normal routine every now and then with a new hobby. Learn to crochet, take a sewing class, try a new recipe. Keep the mind active and stimulated during those cold fall days.
Research shows vitamin D deficiency is tied to seasonal affective disorder. Increase your vitamin D intake with foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and milk. Or ask your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
Smiling makes you happy, and when you’re happy you smile more. It’s a win-win. If the shorter days start to get to you, don’t forget to smile (even if you don’t mean it). The muscle movement can actually trick your brain into happiness.