If you have not heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, it is a very real type of depression that can occur to people who live in areas with drastic weather, sunlight, and outdoor activity changes during the winter months. The symptoms can include: depression, hopelessness, withdrawal, anxiety, sadness, discontent, etc. We know that a lot of our travelers are in geographical locations that experience varying winters compared to the rest of the year, so we wanted to help equip you with ways to combat SAD, if you should experience it.
1. Vitamin D
The sunlight gives us Vitamin D. Thankfully, during times that we aren’t exposed to the sun often enough, there are Vitamin D supplements. A multivitamin is always a good idea, but to specifically fight the negative emotions associated with darkness, Vitamin D supplements can assist.
Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy! You know this famous movie line. Heading to a gym also gives you ample lighting, social experiences, and the feeling of community. If you are struggling with depression, it may be hard to get up and go to the gym. However, the feeling of accomplishing tasks like this can help set aside some of the side effects. Remember, it is also totally acceptable to go for a walk, try yoga in your living room, do a workout DVD, or create your own workout! Just by getting moving, you can shake feelings of anxiety and worry. Our bodies were meant to move. Always seek primary care if you’re feeling unusually unmotivated or upset.
3. Light Therapy
Your primary care provider can give you an accurate “duration and strength” when it comes to light therapy. Lights can be purchased online and in-store and do have the power of affecting mood like the sunlight when used properly. If you are wondering about light therapies near you, try a quick google search or reach out to your primary care provider.
4. Get Outdoors
We know the winters can be brutal in some states that our travel nurses are living. However, try to get your warmest outfit on and go for a walk at the very least. Being outdoors when the sun is out, even when skies are grey, is better than staying cooped up. If you live in an area with snow, rain, etc. during these months, try and see if you can find a new outdoor winter activity that you like with warm clothes and friends. Any time outdoors with your friends in whatever sunlight possible is the goal. You never know, you may find activities you really enjoy. Maybe you are a snow bunny after all!
5. Wake Up Early and Accomplish Something
There is something about losing daylight so early in the evening that it worsens the feelings of SAD. However, if you can wake up earlier and get your day going, the chances of giving up on daily chores at the end of the day or staying inside and feeling gloomy are a lot less likely. It can be so peaceful to turn into a morning person with coffee and a good book waking up with the sun. Make your day longer by determining when it starts as the universe is determining when it ends.
6. Seek Help
If none of these suggestions work for you, or you are in a depressed headspace with no desire to improve your well-being be sure to seek professional help from a primary care provider. You are not alone, and you do not need to struggle alone. SAD is real, and we are here to help you if you need a resource.