Overcome Seasonal Depression with these 5 Tips

Thursday, February 6 2020 4:12 PM
By Katlyn Hartford

Don’t just wait for the weather to warm up to get you out of depression. Genesis Health Clubs is here to help! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real and can really bring you down. The definition of SAD is a type of depression that relates to seasons. Most of the time, people are affected in the fall through the winter season. Less often, people are affected by SAD in the spring and summer. The cold, dry weather can make you feel like you’re stuck inside with nothing to do. You lose your energy and become moody.


What are the causes of SAD?

It’s hard to pinpoint the direct cause of SAD. Some might say it’s the decrease in sunlight. Sunlight affects your serotonin and melatonin levels along with your biological or internal clock. Serotonin levels is a brain chemical that can affect your mood and if it drops, you could be experiencing SAD. Sunlight does have a direct cause in the rising and lowering of your serotonin levels. Melatonin affects how you sleep. When the seasons change, your melatonin levels can be disrupted which messes with your sleep. If you aren’t getting an adequate amount of sleep or too much sleep, your day can be affected. Sources say, “the decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.” In the fall and winter season, the days are shorter, and the nights are longer. You may even feel like you didn’t get to see sunlight if your work schedule is long enough. Can you imagine waking up before sunrise and getting home after sunset? Most people with 8-5 Monday through Friday jobs deal with that every day.


How can we help ourselves during this depressing season?

As a mom of two, one being only three months old, this type of depression really resonates with me. I find myself longing for the warm weather and the days where I can take my kids to the park or go for a walk in the neighborhood. So, what do I do to stay active and keep my energy up during these long cold months? How can I get my kids involved so we’re not all cooped up? Not to mention, how do I get this done in the short time I have while being a working mom. I have to get creative; I only have the weekends of full daylight; weeknights are already dark by the time we get home. Let’s talk some tips to help with those winter blues. I’ve taken some time and looked up some great tips on how to get out of the SAD funk. After a ton of research, here’s what I’ve come up with.


1. Get out there and get some sunlight!

Natural or not, any source of light can change your mood for the better. Take some time out of your day to go outside and let that beautiful sun radiate over your face (because we know it’s too cold to let the sun hit any other part of your body). You can go for a walk, drink your morning coffee outside, whatever pleases you, as long as you can stay warm while doing it. If going outside is not an option for you, open the blinds and let the natural light drape in. if you work in a room with no windows, sources show that “painting walls in lighter colors or using daylight simulation bulbs helps to combat winter SAD.” 30-60 minutes of sunlight or simulated light a day will “stimulate your body’s circadian rhythms and suppress its natural release of melatonin.”


2. Exercise daily, keep moving.

Whether you’re an avid runner or like to work on your strength and conditioning, exercise is a great way to keep you moving and motivated. Getting in the zone in a Yoga class or pumping out the weights on the weight floor are highly effective ways to increase and boost your serotonin levels. As mentioned above, raising your serotonin levels can help you get out of your funk.

Many of our locations place cardio machines by the windows. Jumping on the treadmill while facing the sunlight can help you feel positive during the winter season. We have a variety of Group Exercise classes such as Pilates, Cycle, and Zumba, just to name a few, that can get your blood pumping and give you the endorphins you need to stay happy and healthy this season!


3. Reach out to your family and friends.

SAD can often make you feel lonely. It’s important to reach out to your family and friends when you feel this way. Find a mutually stimulating meeting place like coffee, the library, or a watching a good movie that’s out in theaters. Reconnect with an old friend, maybe they’re feeling down as well and hearing from you is the just what they needed that day.

Being a mom, I find great pleasure in setting up play dates either at one another’s house or at a restaurant with a play area. Having a real adult conversation with someone can have a positive effect. Network and socialize with a fellow mompreneurs or unload and have a deep conversation with someone who can relate. Talking with friends and family about what’s going on in your life, might just be the support you need during SAD season.


4. Stick to your regular schedule and be proactive

If you normally wake up at the same time every day and have somewhere to be, like work or your kid’s preschool/elementary school, it’s easy to keep a routine going every morning. However, if you are stay-at-home mom or retired, it can be harder to keep that routine. It’s easy to stay under the covers and snuggle with your babies, or stay in bed because there’s nowhere for you to be that day. Make an effort to stick with your schedule, be proactive and set yourself reasonable goals for the day. It may be to make sure you are up and dressed by 9 am or get to the gym and get your workout in by 10 am. Whatever your goal may be for that day, stick with it and stay motivated!


5. Know when to seek help.

In all seriousness, it’s good to know when its time to see a doctor about your depression. It’s normal to feel down some days, but if you feel down for days at a time and you lose your motivation to do everyday activities, speak with your doctor. Things to look out for are change in sleep patterns, lack of appetite, turning to alcohol or other forms of substances, feeling hopeless or thinking about suicide. If you are feeling any of these, it’s time to seek help. Finding a support group whether it be online or in person, can help you through this. Never be afraid to tell someone that you are sad and need help. We care about you and want you to seek the help you need.


We hope that you are able to take these tools and techniques to get you through this cold and dreary season. Speak to our front desk staff at one of our 50 facilities around the Midwest and Colorado areas to get set up with a Personal Trainer or find a Group Exercise class online at a location nearest you.


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