It’s no secret that I hate winter where I live…the cold temps, the grey skies, snow, the list goes on. It literally brings down my mood. A few months after I began college, I started having amped up anxiety issues (including my claustrophobia), would randomly vomit up meals, and feel more anti-social. Nothing completely debilitating, but definitely annoying and making everyday-life just that bit harder. I didn’t realize it was happening consistently each winter until my senior year, when I finally discussed it with my mom and a physician. Apparently my grandmother had SAD and now I did too.
For those who don’t know what SAD is, Seasonal Affective Disorder is “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.” Mayo Clinic
Some signs and symptoms of SAD can be feeling depressed, low energy, changes in appetite, feeling guilty, or trouble sleeping. Though the exact cause of SAD is still unknown, many believe the reduction of sunlight in winter months lowers serotonin and melatonin levels, which in turn causes these symptoms. Mayo Clinic
At first I didn’t take any action towards alleviating my symptoms from SAD. What can I say, I’m terrible about going to the doctor. However, I did start trying different healing methods in the last few years, and I think I’m finally discovering what works best for me. Anti-depression medication wasn’t something I felt comfortable taking after a few months, so I nipped that idea in the bud. Instead, when fall comes around I start taking vitamin D3 tablets, exercise regularly, and use this lamp for light therapy on days I’m not getting any exposure to bright sunlight. For more in depth looks on these methods, check out this guest post on Reed’s Wellness and Fitness Training.
Vitamin D3, exercise, and light therapy mostly do the trick, and are definitely the more practical options for everyday life, but there is one special method that can really bring up your mood. TRAVEL! Specifically, traveling to warm and sunny places. Every fall/winter I try to travel at least once (if not several times) to beautiful, warm places and soak in as much sunshine as I can. It’s something to look forward to when I’m feeling down. Even just a few days away from my grey, cold environment really helps!
While I know it’s not easy for most to hop on a plane at a moment’s notice and go somewhere sunny, taking a mini vacay in the winter months is doable with some planning and budgeting. While taking your beach vacation in the summer seems logical, switching up your vacation to the winter can do you a world of good if you are also suffering from SAD. I take lots of weekend trips so I’m not using up all my husband’s vacation time if he tags along, and it seems to be a growing trend for travelers. All you need is a few days in the sun to battle those “winter blues.”
Some people might enjoy a trip down South to lay on a beach. Even if the weather is a little mild, it sure beats the freezing temps back home! Others prefer to go out west and soak in the desert sun with hikes and walks through town. There are so many great deals for cruises between September and January, a little jaunt across the sea could be just the trick. There’s a reason being a snowbird is such an ideal way of life! #lifegoals
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