For many Michiganders, Seasonal Affective Disorder is Nothing to Laugh About
Aptly nicknamed SAD, seasonal affective disorder is more than a case of the winter blues. It is an actual form of depression caused by a lack of sunlight. That lack of sunlight affects the body’s ability to produce the brain chemicals needed to feel happy.
While SAD can affect anyone of any age, seniors are at a higher risk. For those who already have a hard time getting around, icy roads, slippery sidewalks and freezing temperatures can make getting out quite a chore, leading to isolation, loneliness and depression.
If you or someone you love shows signs of SAD, start by seeing a doctor, who may prescribe an anti-depressant or counseling. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do to shed some light on your life, or the life of someone you care about, without leaving the house.
1. Open the shades and turn on the lights
Sitting in a dark room isn’t going to make anyone any happier. So even if it’s cloudy outside, let in whatever light Mother Nature is willing to offer.
2. Bring the outside in
If you know someone who is suffering this winter, take the time to pay them an extra visit. Take along a jigsaw puzzle, a movie or a game to enjoy together. If it is you who is feeling down, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or relative to join you for lunch or afternoon tea.
3. A healthy glow
onsider investing in a lamp or light box that simulates the healthy rays of the sun. Full-spectrum light therapy works by imitating the sun’s rays. It also has been proven to help with dementia and several other ailments.
4. Get your Vitamin D
The sun serves as our primary source of Vitamin D, but when that source is unavailable, we can instead turn to our medicine cabinets and refrigerators. Vitamin D supplements, along with foods such as fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, swordfish and salmon), fortified dairy products and cereals, and egg yolks are all good sources of this depression-fighting vitamin.
5. Cut the carbs
Eating foods high in carbohydrates, including sugar-filled treats, can rob our bodies of dopamine – a hormone that keeps us feeling good. The same goes for alcohol.
6. Be a fan of tryptophan
Foods like turkey, tuna and chicken contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which may help you make serotonin – another of the body’s feel-good hormones.
7. Pour yourself a cup of sunshine
Who says you can only have lemonade in the summer? Lemon and other citrus smells have been shown to decrease feelings of depression, so whether it’s a cold glass of lemonade or a cup of orange zest tea, pour yourself a little taste of summer and perk up your winter. These treats will help you stay hydrated, too!
8. And speaking of smell
Take yourself back to summer with a coconut-scented candle, a citrusy essential oil or a bar of mango-scented soap. Essential oils also are a great way to introduce happy aromas to your home, and they can be moisturizing to dry winter skin.
9. Beckon spring with blossoms
Invite spring into the home with a container of hyacinth bulbs, a bouquet of tulips or a pot of daffodils. Flower shops and even grocery stores are filled with warm-weather blooms that will add life and color to any living space.
10. Pieces of Summer
Spend an afternoon putting together a jigsaw puzzle of a warm, summer scene. Not only will the resulting picture make you feel a little closer to the sun, the activity itself will keep your hands and mind busy.