The time is upon us: winter’s dark clouds loom overhead. You may feel yourself getting fatigued more easily, feeling tired even though you’ve gotten enough sleep, and feeling down and depressed.
What you may be experiencing is Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that manifests in millions of Americans a year, especially those in northern climates.
However, SAD isn’t a death sentence. There are plenty of ways to treat and combat the feelings of loneliness, fatigue, and sadness that can help get you through this difficult season.
Although there are many forms of treatment for SAD, this article will provide you with five easy ways to help fight off seasonal depression in your own life.
1. Talk to your doctor.
It may seem obvious, but since SAD is a medical condition, your doctor may be able to help you with medication or other techniques. They may even refer you to counseling or therapy.
Obviously, exercise won’t solve all your problems, but it can help combat feelings of fatigue. It’s optimal for you to get outside and take a brisk walk or run around campus, but if the cold is too bitter, pick the exercise machine closest to the window at the YMCA.
Exercise can also help combat the weight gain that is common with SADS – weight gain can contribute to lethargy.
3. Get some sun.
Since SAD is triggered by a lack of light throwing off your circadian rhythms, it’s best to get outside when the sun is at its apex (around noon) and soak up the light. You can also keep windows uncovered in your dorm room, or pick seats near the windows in the library to study.
If it’s very cold out, try studying in one of the lounges in the Cohen Science Center – they all have floor-to-ceiling windows that will get you some light exposure.
4. Keep a good schedule.
I know it’s hard, but sleeping and getting up at reasonable hours can really help keep seasonal depression at bay. SAD can cause sleeping problems, but keeping a regular schedule can help your rhythms get back in place and train your body to produce melatonin at the right time.
5. Take a break.
Fatigue is very difficult to cope with. Don’t force yourself to work so hard that you have a breakdown – take a break to do something you enjoy, like volunteering, hanging out with friends, or even chilling and watching Netflix for an hour.
Allowing yourself some time to decompress is very important in combating depression. The more you push yourself, the more fatigued you will become. Fatigue will only worsen symptoms of depression.
Most importantly, if you’re feeling as if you are unsafe or a danger to yourself and others, get help. The campus counseling center is open to any student and would be glad to help you out. If you’re having difficulty talking, websites like 7cupsoftea.com or crisischat.com.
It might feel embarrassing, but there’s no shame in asking for a hand up when you need it. Take the steps to keep your head above water.
It’s okay if you can only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.