If you find yourself feeling a bit down this time of year, you’re not alone. It may be burnout from the holidays or it could be weather related. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's brought on by changes in seasons, mostly occurring in the winter months.
More than just the winter blues, SAD zaps your energy, makes you moody and can make you feel a little fuzzy in the brain—not helpful characteristics for a busy entrepreneur. Getting rid of SAD takes more than just stepping out of the office once in a while. If you don’t eliminate the causes, the symptoms could get worse. These include major depression, feelings of hopelessness, problems sleeping and even substance abuse. Treatments for SAD include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy, and sometimes medications. Before it goes too far, here are some ways to keep SAD at bay:
Get more natural light
Make sure you keep your office bright and cheery. If you can, open your window shades to let as much natural light in as possible. If that’s not possible, or your location doesn’t give you much natural light, look for bulbs that mimic natural light. Stay neat and clean It’s also important to keep your office organized. Getting your responsibilities and projects in order can help relieve the stress of feeling overwhelmed.
Exercise and eat well
Exercising releases dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters that regulates mood. Sometimes all you need to put your mood on the right track is to take a brisk walk or run. If you take care of yourself, you have less chance of feeling down during the winter months. Also, watch your sugar intake. Too much sugar can play havoc on your mood when you experience a post-sugar crash.
Take a break
SAD can cause difficulties in concentrating, so make the time to get out and see friends, volunteer for your favorite charity, or have a weekly lunch date with a business associatein a restaurant with lots of natural light so you can get some relief. If you find yourself feeling SAD every winter (or any other season) make a plan to get away from your business for a few days each season.
Purchase a light box
When the sky gets darker earlier in the day, you naturally feel more tired. You may need to invest in a light box to help make up for the lack of daylight.
If your symptoms don’t improve, make an appointment with a doctor to see what he or she can do. Treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy or antidepressant medication may be just what you need to stop feeling SAD.
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