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As the Days Grow Darker

How to Overcome a SAD Time of Year


Autumn flaunts a warm, enchanting kind of beauty, but it can also be a haunting predecessor of despondence for some as winter looms in waiting.


Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a state of depression that affects many individuals. According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD occurs most frequently during the fall and winter months and is associated with feeling listless, and sluggish, with less motivation for the activities one enjoys during other times of the year. As the days become colder and shorter, those who suffer from SAD may experience symptoms such as oversleeping, changes in appetite, weight gain, depression, and low energy. One major cause of SAD seems to be the loss of sunlight, which can lead to a lack of vitamin D, low levels of serotonin, and low levels of melatonin according to the Mayo Clinic.


Here are a few ways to manage Seasonal Affective Disorder from Dignity Health:

  1. Light Therapy. Take more walks during daylight hours, especially when the sun comes out to play. You can also purchase specialized artificial lights for your home -- these are particularly effective if you use them in the morning.

  2. Vitamin D. Consider purchasing a vitamin D supplement, or have your doctor prescribe a higher-concentrated version of vitamin D, such as 10,000 IU or 50,000 IU.

  3. Healthy Diet. Keep a balanced approach to sugar and carbohydrates, and consider a vegetable-packed salad or a hot bowl of soup to warm you up.

  4. Aerobic Exercise. When you're depressed, the last thing you may want to do is move. But aerobic workouts -- particularly done outside in the sunshine or under bright light -- can have a positive impact on your mood, releasing endorphins to balance out the sadness and anxiety.

  5. Medications. Depending on the severity of your outlook, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you manage your symptoms.

  6. Counseling. Sometimes, discussing your feelings and experiences with a professional therapist, a social worker, or a psychiatrist can offer support during these darker days. Therapy can also teach you to recognize triggers and adopt coping skills for anxiety and depression.

As farmers, we cannot promote exposure to sunlight and movement outdoors enough. We’re grateful for the positive effects of our daily labor out in the Strawberry fields even during the harsh winter months. As the days melt into darkness before supper, we encourage you to incorporate this vital outlet into your daily rhythms. Winter’s chill can certainly bite, yet she offers beautiful, rare gifts to body and spirit if we will just bundle up, adventure a little, and find them.


Resources:


Mayo Clinic Staff. “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651#:~:text=Seasonal%20affective%20disorder%20(SAD)%20is,and%20making%20you%20feel%20moody.


Heneghan, Carol. “6 Tips for Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Dignity Health. https://www.dignityhealth.org/articles/6-tips-for-overcoming-seasonal-affective-disorder.




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