This is Melissa K, one of Dustin’s contributors.

For those of you in the Midwest winter is quickly approaching.  For me that means wanting to sleep a lot more, massive carb cravings, weight gain, anxiety and agitation, low motivation and feeling easily overwhelmed.  Why do I feel like this when the days get colder and darker?  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  It mostly affects adult women who live near the poles (ex. upper US and Canada).  People with mild symptoms are said to have the Winter Blues.

No one is sure what causes SAD.  Some say the darkness decreases levels of Serotonin in your brain which regulates mood. If you find yourself or a loved one feeling this way please consult your doctor to find the best treatment for you.  Here are ways I have found to deal with this seasonal menace:

  • Light therapy
    • I have a light box that I sit in front of each day.
  • Daily walks
    • I find the fresh air and what little sun there is helps me.
  • Sunlight
    • There is nothing like catch’n some rays to boost your mood.
  • Exercise
    • Starting my day with boot camp really wakes me up and gets me going.
  • Proper Nutrition
    • This one is really difficult to stick to with such strong carb cravings but it makes a huge difference in how awake and motivated I feel.
  • Vitamin D
    • Get your vitamin D levels checked.  Most likely if you live where there are long dark days your levels are low.
  • Fish Oil
    • My doctor told me 4,000 mg to 6,000 mg of fish oil per day can help with seasonal depression.  I haven’t noticed a difference for myself but this may work for you.
    • Make sure you get a good quality supplement, some can have high levels of mercury.
  • Eat the majority of your daily calories before the sun goes down.
    • This is something new I am trying out.  My lethargy and carb cravings kick in around the same time that the sun goes down.  Those two combined pretty much guarantee I’m not going to eat a healthy diner even if I have one pre-made.
  • Antidepressants
    • Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants.  I take them, but with my recent reading I’m undecided about whether that is a good idea or not.  Do your research.
  • Listen to your body
    • Ultimately you have to find the combination of therapies that work best for your.

What do you do to get through the long, cold days with a smile on your face?