As winter weather sets in, millions of US residents brace for battle with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that occurs when the seasons change. SAD typically occurs in the winter. People who suffer from the condition are usually between ages 18 and 30. Warning signs include, but are not limited to:
- Decreased energy
- Depressed mood
- Difficulty concentrating
- A sense of hopelessness
- Changes in appetite
- Altered sleep patterns
- Lack of interest in activities you typically enjoy
- In severe cases, thoughts of suicide or death
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If a diagnosis of SAD is given, or if you’re feeling the “winter blues”, here is how you can handle the symptoms from your home.
Light Therapy Boxes & Spectrum Bulbs
Sitting next to a light therapy box (also called a light box) for at least 30 minutes a day provides relief for some people. The light box provides comparable light to a bright, sunny day. Don’t look directly into the light box, but remember to keep your eyes open. Many people use them in the morning while eating breakfast, checking email, catching up on work, or getting ready for the workday.
Other people find relief by creating a comforting or energizing space near a full spectrum bulb or daylight bulb. The bulbs aren’t powerful enough to mimic the daylight but can go a long way in combating season depression. Consider creating an inspirational reading nook or setting up a treadmill or stationary bike near the bulb.
Bring Your Home to Life with Plants
Bring life to your home with plants. It sounds simple, but it is effective. Consider building a DIY greenhouse in your backyard and grow veggies and fruits year-round, or fill the rooms in your living space with green and blooming plants. If you’re living area is small, select an area to be a sadness-free retreat. Set up a yoga mat to practice mindfulness next to an exercise area; adding movement to your day will produce endorphins and serotonin, which will help improve your mood.
Choose Warm, Joyful Colors
Assess your home’s color scheme. If you’re surrounded by dark or muted colors outside, consider the opposite for the inside of your home. Paint your walls with colors that inspire warmth and joy, like a cozy sunrise, or a warm, light blue sky. Plus, adding a DIY project to your to-do list can help boost your energy and creativity, studies show.
If painting seems too daunting, swap out throw pillows for brighter colors or trade dark-colored bedding for soft yellow hues.
Consider changing your artwork to mirror your favorite outdoor scenes and hanging pictures from your favorite recent vacations. Thinking about past times of joy can boost happiness in a blue moment,research shows.
Try New Recipes
Work more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Try new recipes. These are sure ways to tackle many kinds of depression, including SAD. If it’s cold outside, try a new soup, stew or crockpot recipe. Invite friends over to taste the results. The food – and the company – will feel good.
Surround Yourself with Good Vibes
Surround yourself with your favorite works of art, music and literature. These will motivate you during times when you might be at a greater risk for SAD. Upbeat music is a great mood-booster, so why not pipe it through your home with a multi-room music system?
Also, consider design schemes that inspire a positive attitude. Choose décor that will build your confidence and put soul into your surroundings, such as quotes from people you admire or family heirlooms that remind you of positive childhood memories.
Experts still don’t know exactly what causes seasonal affective disorder, but whenever changes come around the corner – big or small – humans have an emotional response. You don’t have to have an official diagnosis to feel a touch of the blues during the colder, darker months. Use these home tips to help manage feelings of depression any time of the year.