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Win the Battle with SAD: 2 Lifestyle Changes That Help Defeat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Short days, grey skies, and cold weather plunge millions into the winter blues. A genuine state of depression that recurs every winter and lifts in the summer months is referred to as seasonal affective disorder. This condition causes terrible exhaustion and mood changes during the four or five months of winter. Sufferers learn to dread the coming of fall, tainting their ability to enjoy half the year.

Seeking medical advice for depression is very important. Making lifestyle changes can help as well. Even with all that, each winter finds people depressed and miserable. Are there any tricks that can make a difference? Consider two very simple changes that will help you defeat your SAD:

1) Get Moving Before 6 a.m.

This seems counter-intuitive, especially if it will be another four hours before sunrise. Why would getting up that early help someone? At about 6 a.m., people sink back into a very deep part of the sleep cycle. Trying to wake up and function after that time is very difficult, and in itself discouraging.

Try getting up at 5:45 a.m. for about three weeks and you’ll notice a definite improvement in your energy levels. Many people with SAD use a “dawn alarm” that simulates the natural sunrise to awaken them gradually. This is a practical idea that some find effective. For others, setting a loud alarm across the room forces them to get out of bed and get moving.

It’s likely too cold and dark to go outside and exercise at 6 a.m., so plan on doing a gentle workout indoors to get your blood flowing. Try Pilates or Essentrics, low-impact exercises that you can actually comfortably do more than one day in a row. You’ll feel better and lose excess winter weight more easily than you thought possible.

2) Stop Eating Before 6 p.m.

Another trick that might not sound appealing, this concept is the missing puzzle piece for millions who have battled SAD throughout life. A light dinner that is eaten early in the evening will give your body the support it needs without overwhelming your metabolism. The temptation to eat comfort foods late into the night is very real. Be aware of supporting yourself, not sabotaging your health.

Eating later in the evening or snacking at night exhausts the body and results in numerous health problems. Many who rely on comfort eating become insulin resistant. This will eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. In the years before that, it causes a host of unexpected complications. Sadly, insulin resistance is a strong risk factor for major depression.

Take practical steps to stave off this disorder by simply not taking in foods (or drinks) that raise blood sugar after your early dinner. Unsweetened, black decaffeinated coffee or tea will keep you warm and hydrated. If you fall back into bad habits for a day or two, don’t give up on yourself. Just begin again.

As adults, changing lifelong habits can be very difficult. Try these schedule changes for at least three weeks to establish your new habit and allow your body to adjust. You’ll find you love how much better you feel.

Remember, used together, these lifestyle changes complement each other. If you get up early, you won’t be staying up late and snacking because of boredom or anxiety. If you get some exercise early each day, you’ll have more energy and you’ll lose weight, reducing insulin resistance and its complications.

These supportive self-care ideas are beneficial year-round. Anyone who struggles with exhaustion or the blues during the winter can use these practical suggestions to win the battle with SAD!