10 Tips for Preventing SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
As the days are getting shorter and darker here in Stuttgart, many may be starting to feel a little blue - and the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) could be creeping in. What are the symptoms to look out for and what can you do to prevent them from taking the joy out of your winter days?
Symptoms of SAD
SAD has several symptoms, and some of them are so subtle that you may not even contribute them to experiencing SAD (Mikulski 2004), such as:
10 Tips for Preventing SAD
1) Increase your home’s light – raise the blinds, open the curtains, and make sure you don’t sit in a dark room unnecessarily.
2) Practice relaxation and stress management techniques like prayer, meditation, mindfulness or slow deep breathing.
3) Go outside and get your exercise! Get outside more, especially when the sun is shining. Walk to the local farmers market in town, play with the kids, take a walk or a bike ride along the many trails around Stuttgart. The fresh air and the natural light are natural combatants to SAD.
4) Visit one of the many Thermal Spas here in Europe. The hot mineral water has natural healing and relaxation properties. Try the Caracalla Spa in Baden Baden (45 minute drive from Stuttgart) or stay closer and enjoy the Mineraltherme Spa in Böblingen. Alternatively, fill up your own bathtub with hot water and anti-stress bath salts.
5) Nurture your soul. Have a friend over, skype with family or friends back home; light some scented candles, drink a cup of hot tea, , listen to your favorite music, sit in front of the fireplace and curl up with a loved one or a good book.
6) Check your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D gives us a natural energy boost, and not having enough in the fall and winter can cause the symptoms of SAD.
7) Visit sunshiny places. Plan a trip to the mountains - Sun shine and blue skies are more common in the high altitudes of the Austrian / Swiss / French Alps. And not to mention the beautiful snow covered peaks.
8) Get enough (but not too much) sleep and rest – Turn the computers and televisions off and get to bed at a reasonable time.
9) Eat a healthy balanced diet - low in saturated fats and refined sugars, and carbs. Try to eat food high in magnesium and calcium - more veggies, whole grains, and lean protein.
10) If nothing seems to help, reach out for professional help.
If the sadness and irritability get too overwhelming, it might be a good idea to talk with a professional counselor who can help you deal with your symptoms and determine any other underlining causes for them.
Mikulski, Jessica. “Coping with Winter Depression: Tips for Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder.” American Psychiatric Association. November 2004.
• Constant fatigue
• Carb cravings (which can also lead to weight gain)
• Withdrawing from others
• Frustration and irritability
• Lack of energy
• Body aches and pain
After winter comes summer. After night comes the dawn. And after every storm, there comes clear, open skies.
- Samuel Rutherford