Could Seasonal Affective Disorder Be Making You SAD?
There’s no denying it, winter is no longer coming, it’s here, and we’re not just talking about Game of Thrones coming back in April.
With the season comes darker days, longer nights, and colder weather—yes, even in sunny Southern California! If you feel like your post-holiday blues have gone on longer this year than the last, it may be something more than that, it may be Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “SAD,” is “a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons.” SAD can make you feel like a balloon with all of the air deflated out of you—it can really affect your outlook on life and impact the way you feel about your personal and professional life now. That could include a general apathy towards making plans for the future, a loss of enthusiasm for the goals that once got you super hyped, or even a disinterest in spending time with friends, co-workers, and Advisors. The good news is, there are ways to combat it—but if you do feel like it could be affecting you, please contact a medical professional ASAP. We’re not doctors, nor do we play one on TV!
Sorry, neither does George Clooney, anymore…
Read on to find out more about Seasonal Affective Disorder, and easy steps you can take to combat it.
Light Up Your Life
One of the prevailing theories around SAD is that the drastic reduction in natural daylight in the winter is a major contributing factor to why it may afflict you. You may not be a morning person, and SAD can make it harder to get up in the am, but the sooner you can get a fix of sunlight each day the better. It can be as simple as opening your blinds or curtains in the morning to let the light shine through. You can also trick your body into thinking it is getting more natural sunlight through lightboxes that are designed to combat SAD, but we recommend you do so under the guidance of a medical professional.
We talk a lot about how to intellectually prepare yourself for success and figuring out what you want in life, but sometimes all you need is to get your body moving to get some clarity on your path. Vigorous exercise tends to clear out some of the cobwebs in your mental space allowing room for new thoughts and ideas to enter in, which is why it’s a natural way to fight off SAD, too. It releases endorphins that help lift your mood and decrease negative feelings. Try to fit in about 30 minutes a day in whatever activity you can. It can be as low-impact as walking, but the important thing is to get your body moving. We know it can be hard to fit that in when you’re busy—but it can be as easy as putting on some music, closing the blinds, and dancing around your place for a bit. Go on, we won’t tell anyone!
We get it, it’s cold outside—but the more time you can spend outdoors, soaking in the natural light and breathing in fresh air, the better. It could be as straightforward as walking for coffee with a co-worker (or even an Advisor!) or parking a bit farther in the parking lot than you normally would just to get those extra minutes outdoors.
Keep a Routine
One of the dirty tricks SAD does to you is make you lose interest in things you once really enjoyed. You can fight this by keeping a routine—the normalcy will help you see that your life is progressing, and that the people you make plans with care about you enough to carve out time just for you. Most importantly, keep your Commitments and deadlines—don’t let SAD negatively impact the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build and maintain—it’s a short-term problem that you don’t want to have impact your long-term goals.
Find New Activities
There’s no denying it: it’s practically impossible to have a beach party or BBQ in the backyard in the winter. You may find that what you can do becomes severely limited in the winter, which can contribute to your general feeling of malaise. We encourage you to find new activities, such as a book club or an indoor sports league to help spend your time. It will get you out and about and interacting.
SAD is very common and affects many people—chances are, if you’re feeling it other people you know are too. Don’t forget to make time for the people in your life. Grab a coffee with friends, or hit up a new lunch spot with coworkers, or even schedule a Meeting with your Advisor. The point is, make time for people in your life, even if it seems like a lot of effort—the support the people in your life can give you is invaluable. You matter very much!
You’re Not Alone
Like we said at the beginning of the blog, SAD is a very common affliction in the winter months, and it can negatively impact your life in very real ways. Please contact your doctor if you think it’s affecting you—however, you may find that once your SAD is treated, some of the things you were thinking and feeling are sticking around. If that’s the case, it may mean that the path you’re on isn’t working for you anymore. If you feel that, we encourage you to start a dialogue with your Advisor(s) to help you figure out what your next steps will be—whatever they are, we know it’s going to lead to great things for you.
…and remember, even though it’s winter now, spring and the sunshine, warmer weather, and yes, Game of Thrones that comes with it is just around the corner. Hang in there!