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  • 1/31/2011

How to Avoid SAD


By Judy Ford


Take Charge of Your Mood

The three troublesome feelings: hopelessness, depression and anxiety start to develop in the fall for folks who suffer from SAD. While these uncomfortable feelings can interfere with the quality of your day, there are things you can do to feel better and avoid feeling down. The first step is to acknowledge the feelings and then commit to doing whatever it takes to alter your mood. Take charge of your emotions; don't let your mood take charge of you.


Turn Negative Thoughts Positive

Negative thoughts increase the more you think about them. It is possible to see the bright side by focusing on a positive thoughts. For example, replace the negative thought, "There is nothing to look forward to," with "I will find something joyful today." Look for the joy. When your mind starts thinking negative thoughts, say to yourself: "Stop mind, I am looking for joy." You do control what you think. Ask yourself: "What would I like to think today?" To find inspiration, read a positive story, poem, or if you are religious, pray each morning to encourage positive thoughts.


Do Not Hide or Isolate Yourself

If your tendency is to hide away and keep sadness to yourself, when you're feeling down, then you might need help changing this habit. Get a buddy to keep you on track. Isolation increases hopelessness and makes your anxiety grow. Reach out to friends. Make dates for walking and talking. Getting some exercise and fresh air can help. Discuss new ways to get through the winter. Remind yourself that you are not alone. Many people cope with the seasonal blues. It can help to overcome them together.


Balance Movement With Rest

Rest, sleep, nap and move your body. To feel in balance we need rest and movement. People with SAD need as much as 10 hours of sleep in the winter, and that's OK, but if you find that you're sleeping more than that, you could benefit from moving. If you are prone to insomnia or nodding off in the middle of the day, getting out of the house will get the body working to uplift the mood. Fresh air, exercise, yoga or a walk around the block will lighten your spirit. Don't postpone this type of exercise. Don't make up excuses. Take charge and enjoy a happy, healthy winter.


Sit in Bright Light

A specialized light box designed to mimic sunshine will kick-start your brain chemicals without the side effects of medication. Make your home sunny and bright. Keep the blinds open, sit by the window, burn good-smelling candles. Creating a cozy home will help you feel safe, warm and ready to socialize.


Listen to Upbeat Music and an Inspiring Audio Book

Music is calming and energizing. In the morning put on energizing music and at night play calming sounds. Listening to a book on tape is entertaining and educational. Listening to a human voice can be soothing as well. Plus, you feel less alone when being read to. Go to the library and bring home books on tape. Hearing the story will distract you from anxieties, and the soothing voice will help you fall asleep at night.


Apply a Grateful Remedy

The quickest cure for hopelessness is counting your blessings. When you feel the seasonal blues overtake you, don't let those momentary thoughts and feelings stop you from being grateful. List five things that you are grateful for each day. Say them out loud daily, and soon you will have reprogrammed your brain to experience the joy of being alive. Gratitude is good for body and soul.


Tips & Warnings

Seasonal blues and clinical depression are two different entities. Moderate depression is not likely to respond to these activities and advice. Consult your health care provider if you are continuing to feel down, depressed, experience loss of appetite, loss of interest in regular activities, or have a loss of libido.

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