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Even more tips to fight your Seasonal Affective Disorder
As every year during these weeks search requests for our blog article on the subject Seasonal Affective Disorder are beginning to pile up. No wonder: Summer is clearly a thing of the past, fall and winter with their long, dark nights and unfortunately also frequent bleary days await. The nights are already uncomfortably cool. During these months the inherent light deficiency affects the emotional state of many. Studies show that during fall and winter many people complain about depressions, lack of energy and a ravenous appetite for something sweet. Psychologists describe this seasonal dependent depressive mood as SAD – seasonal affective disorder. As we face the threat of the blahs during the dark-cold season it is now high time to fight them with a few new tips from us!
- In the course of our two recent contributions on this subject we already recommended mood-enhancers such as celebrating when you have the chance! Such as Thanksgiving, potato harvests and fun evening parties with friends. Obviously you must not forget Halloween! Although you may be a little long in the tooth to don a disguise, move from house to house and ask for sweets – an eerily-beautiful spooky-party on the eve of All Saints or just simply a pumpkin party with nom noms, decorations and games around this crazy fruit (did you know that botanically pumpkins are fruits?) are always a splendid idea. Check here for a few delicious pumpkin salads and great pie recipes.
- You can’t bring yourself to venture outside on windy, rainy, cold days? Maybe all you need is a friendly coach to provide you with a little “motivation”! And not even an expensive personal trainer – I was thinking of one with four legs and at no financial “exertion” to you. With a dog on the leash, walking in any weather is great fun and preferably with one from your local animal shelter. Most shelters are in urgent need of volunteer dog walkers who’ll regularly walk their four-legged charges once or twice a week. This has many advantages for you: You don’t have to get your own dog (something that may be just too much of a problem if you have a full-time job) and you do something for the dog and for yourself. A dog by your side is bound to improve your mood regardless of the weather. At this time of the year when our body is all too frequently suffering from light deficiency, a stroll in the fresh air is the best imaginable anti-depressive. New contacts like the shelter employees who are grateful for your support are a part of it and an added attraction as are other dog owners you are bound to meet on the way and most importantly your four-legged companion who is sure to show its gratitude in its very own, special way! Everything pure balsam for the depressed winter-soul – and who knows, it has been known that this relationship may even bloom into something permanent. In the United States shelter dogs are more and more frequently being employed to alleviate depressions and more recently aid in the treatment of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorders) suffered by thousands of returning veterans. Beyond that astonishing rehabilitative results have been achieved by pairing prisoners with pit bulls.
- Extent the summer with a few good books featuring it in a leading role. For instance Katharina Hagena’s “The Taste of Apple Seeds”, Siri Hustvedt’s “Summer without Men”, Danielle Ganek’s “The Summer we read Gatsby”, or Jude Deveraux’s “The Summerhouse”. I’ll bet that the dark season is going to feel much more bearable with the help of these page-turners.
- Here another thought for wine lovers: In our last contribution we already suggested the vineyard- winter break as a great way to fight fall depression. In addition to America’s famous vineyards on her west coast, you’ll find lots of them in the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest and even on the East Coast. Some even offer room and board. Is there a better way to beat the blahs? Another suggestion: Red Wine tasting adventures are a perfect fit for the season (and if it really gets chilly, how about turning it into a mulled wine adventure? That is guaranteed to warm you all over!) The warm summer evenings, a time for light white wines or even wheat beer are gone. Now is the time for heavy, substantial red wines with sufficient “standing” to prevail against the savory fall and winter dishes such as roast venison and pot roasts. Red wine tasting helps you discover totally new flavor variations, it will sharpen your sensory perception and let you savor your evening glass of red wine even more intensely!
- Not in the mood for reading, would rather watch movies? They also offer perfect material for the cold season! The funnier, the better because he who laughs creates happiness hormones and they still continue improving the mood when the movie has ended. Comedies like “The Five Year Engagement”, “Christmas Vacation’ or “Pink Panther” are invaluable ingredients during the winter and at times of cold and darkness!
- Really don’t feel like cold and darkness and still have a few vacation days left over? During autumn and winter the Canary Islands are the perfect travel destination for the Europeans suffering from fall depression! Thanks to the pleasantly warm climate of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and an almost dead certain guarantee of sunshine one can at least escape the depressing grey-in-grey for a little while. That which applies to the Canary Islands in Europe, in the United States applies in spades to Florida, Hawaii and the Caribbean Islands. Thousands (the “snowbirds”) migrate from the US and Canada (sometimes for the entire season) into warmer climes in order to escape the misery of winter. Between October and March is peak season. While it is often tough to find space between Christmas and New Years and in February, at other times deals are still available. For those with a few more days, 3-day, 4-day and 6-day Caribbean cruises depart with stunning regularity from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and New Orleans. Even there January and March provide perfect opportunities for a deal.
- Craving something sweet? Occasionally that needs to be satisfied, as well and in this case the next bikini season is fortunately still far in the future with spring the time for losing weight. How about something unusual? For instance pumpkin ice cream with pumpkin seed brittle, pumpkin biscuits with butterscotch-choco-beads or blackberry-tiramisu. If your taste includes something sweet with a little alcohol to chase the blahs, you may enjoy a lychee nut martini.
- In case you are one of those who abhor exercising outdoors in below zero temperatures: This may be the perfect time to visit a fitness studio and take a stab at a few new trends! Now that the summer’s heat is over when in the evenings one had better things on the agenda than spending time on the treadmill, have you ever tried Zumba, a mixture of dancing and fitness workout? Since that has almost become a classic – you may prefer something brand-new, you may want to check whether a fitness studio in the vicinity offers Piloxing (a mixture of Pilates, boxing and dancing) or even the barre concept (a workout on the exercise bar for dancers) said to be particularly effective. Another new hype: EMS-training (electromyostimulation-training) - in the course of exercising the muscles are contracted with the help of light electric impulses and thus are said to develop faster than during regular exercises. No matter what works for you: Exercise is as effective as it is a anti-depressive without any negative side effects and during this dark season more important than ever. Therefore don’t plead fatigue as an excuse!
- Music is absolutely the simplest, quickest and most effective mood modulator of all. Target and compile your very personal good-mood-music for the dingy autumn- and winter days. Those are all the songs that automatically move you to begin tapping your feet and naturally all those reminding you of the good times and situations in your life. It works best if you sing along at the top of your voice - and not only in the shower! Then autumn depressions don’t have a chance . . .
- Deliberately create smile- and chuckle-moments for yourself. Best of all first thing in the morning, right after getting up. Ideal are funny tear-off calendars featuring cartoons and jokes!
- During these days pay particular attention to your health! The autumn- and winter depressions effect those who are physically fit and feel well a lot less negatively than someone who has to fight a flu or a miserable cold in addition to a depressed mood. Something most people are unaware of: Neither vitamin C nor zinc are helpful at protecting us from infections. Vitamin D is a lot more important because it activates the killer cells and strengthens the immune system. It is generated by the influence of sunlight – exactly the reason we more frequently tend to get sick during the light deficient season. In addition to the already mentioned benefits of spending as much time outside as possible, you should also treat yourself a little more frequently to fish. Sardines and salmon are particularly rich in vitamin D. Beyond that, frequently washing your hands and avoiding unnecessary handshakes protects from being infected. Also drink lots of fluids; desiccated mucous membranes are less able to defend against viruses than those that are well lubricated and particularly in overheated or temperature-controlled spaces.
- Are you a fan of hats? Do you like scarves? In that case this is the time for you to indulge! If not, maybe you can warm up to it for the first time? Spending an afternoon with your best friend trying every available model in the hat department is not just lots of fun because a fashionable cover protects you from the season’s wet and cold. According to the latest findings, the wisdom still promulgated by our mothers that we lose 40% of body heat in cold temperatures is just as much of a myth that spinach is exceptionally rich in iron. On the other hand it is simply lots more comfortable walking around in the cold drizzle with a warm head instead of a cold one. And a pretty colorful scarf does not only provide a good mood accent to the dark winter outfit – when you pull it up around your mouth in the cold, you do your respiratory passages a distinct favor. After all, cold air is not good for the bronchial tubes. Or you can just change to a scoody, a hooded scarf and in that way kill two birds with one stone, so to speak!
- Also, consider getting yourself a daylight (full spectrum) lamp. In Scandinavia (where at this time of the year the night lasts much longer then in our latitudes) these lamps are widely used because they imitate the sun’s natural light spectrum and are therefore utilized for light therapy on the occasion of seasonally occurring depressions.
And now: Have a wonderful autumn and winter without any mood lows and depressions for you!
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This article was written by psychologist and book author Felicitas Heyne. She is the developer of the iPersonic personality test. Take the free personality test now and get in-depth career advice and life coaching from our unique iPersonic personality profiles!Similar articles in this blog:
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