Those who struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) often begin experiencing symptoms in the early fall and continue into the dark and gloomy winter months. Since SAD can cause fatigue, anxiety, and apathy, preparing for it is just as important as maintaining daily health and wellbeing.
And preparing for it you can. That is an important fact to remember as the summer days slowly make a departure and make room for autumn. The reason behind SAD is quite simple, mainly shorter days mean less light which then means that our circadian rhythm is chronically under-stimulated as we produce more melatonin (our natural sleep hormone).
The thing is though that there is enough light intensity outside on the most overcast winter days to still stimulate our circadian rhythms and get our energy going. So why do so many of us still experience SAD as summer begins to fade and what can we do about it?
Scientists believe SAD is caused by a biochemical change in our circadian rhythms when reduced sunlight triggers decreased serotonin and melatonin levels. Lower levels of vitamin D are also associated with increased symptoms of SAD. But while this is very much related to solid factors such as weather and vitamin D, treating SAD – or better still – avoiding it altogether is incredibly interlinked to habits and lifestyle.
So here are a few things you can do to prepare early and avoid SAD this winter:
- Go outside as much as possible. Like we said before, even an overcast winter day has enough daylight to stimulate your circadian rhythm. So try to spend as much time as possible outdoors and begin now, at the end of August, rather than when you are already feeling the grunts of winter.
- Can you try to get an exercise routine going? Moving your body naturally helps you maintain a healthy mental and physical wellbeing. This will also help you avoid SAD as the days become shorter and our desire to curl up inside and munch of sweet and warm foods continue.
- Begin understanding the type of light in your surroundings. Whether this is done through a LYS light tracking button or by simply understanding that during your active hours the light around you should be bright and blue and in your downtime warm and dim, making sure you are following how light impacts your wellbeing is crucial to avoid SAD.
It might seem early in the year to be thinking about SAD as the summer has hardly left most of us, but starting early and training your body to begin customizing into a new daily routine and daily light cycle is the best way to beat the SAD away.