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how do you navigate seasonal affective disorder during the holidays? by christy

seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real issue that affects many people during the holidays, a time typically associated with joy and celebration. the shorter days and less sunlight can decease your energy, mood, and motivation, making it harder to embrace the festive spirit. but having SAD should not restrict your enjoyment of the holidays season. 

to give some context before we start, SAD is a type of depression that happens seasonally, usually during the fall and winter time when daylight hours are shorter. it is related to changes in light exposure, affecting mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. although you should never self-diagnose, some common symptoms could include low energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, and feelings of sadness. 

as with dealing with any other mental health condition, having a support system is crucial. connecting with others who understand what you're going through can be helpful and provide valuable coping strategies. social interaction is important for combating loneliness and isolation, which can worsen SAD symptoms. make time for friends and family, even if it's just a virtual hangout. however, if you experience more severe symptoms of SAD, such as suicidal thoughts, it's important to talk to a professional. effective treatments for SAD include light therapy, talk therapy, and medication.

make sure to take care of your physical health too, not just your mental health. engage in activities that promote well-being, such as exercise, spending time outdoors, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule. physical activity is known as a natural mood booster, even if it's just a brisk walk around the block. aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. a great idea is embracing winter activities! try going for a hike in the snow, ice skating, or ice-skiing. these activities can be a fun way to get some exercise and enjoy the winter scenery.

what may surprise you is the significance of light exposure when battling SAD. brightening the darker winter days with light therapy can help ease depressive symptoms associated with SAD – so open up the curtains and let the sunshine in whenever you can. you can even talk to a professional about getting a “light box,” a device that can help you with SAD symptoms. according to Mayo Clinic, this device “may cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD, such as being tired most of the time and sleeping too much.

remember that SAD is a treatable condition. by following these tips and taking care of yourself, you can still have a happy and fulfilling holiday season, even if the days are shorter and the weather is colder. wishing you a bright and joyful season!

thank you to these sources for information used in the article:

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