Sleeping too long may produce sluggishness and lack of energy for a person with SAD. Not sleeping enough can cause irritability, cognitive restrictions, and exhaustion. Cannon recommends sticking with a sleep schedule. “Get enough sleep for you. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time,” she says. By following a routine, sleeping will become more productive and the body will be rested.
Recognizing and accepting that moods change is another thing Jensen recommends for coping with winter blues. “Watch out for the self-fulfilling hibernation,” he says, explaining this as a cycle of feeling down, not doing anything, staying inside, feeling more depressed, and then sleeping more. This cycle leads to a downward spiral effect and deeper depression. Jensen warns us to recognize the symptoms, find what works, and get out. Support systems can help people recognize when they may be sleeping too much, staying inside too long, and feeling worse about themselves.
Longer than Winter
Winter blues involve feelings like anxiety, hopelessness, loss of interest, and changes in social interactions. Many people may experience these symptoms at various times during their life, but do these feelings persist? When every day seems to be a bad day and when the feeling of hopelessness becomes a burden, that is when Cannon says it is time to see a professional about depression. The question is, when you feel depressed, do you come out of it?
With some circumstances of SAD, medication helps. Cannon says that taking medicine during those months may help some cope with SAD, but that also involves cognitive therapy with a professional. It varies with each individual.
A New Outlook
By making provisions for winter, your morning routine may lose some of the gloom it previously had and look more like the following: The alarm goes off, but instead of hearing voices, a light slowly brightens your room. The curtains are shut; the sun will rise in two hours, but you are feeling stronger than yesterday. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the 20s, again, but blue skies are in the forecast for the next two days. The bright blue light continues to beam, warming your face.
Your cell phone vibrates. It’s a text from your friend reminding you about the new elliptical in your living room and the ski trip this Saturday. What’s more, everybody in your support group will be calling in an hour. They will have finished their workout.
Instead of thinking, you throw off your comforter and look for your workout shoes. For you, winter has arrived and taking care of yourself is one of your top priorities. You know that making small changes in your daily routine will have huge effects on your mood. Winter blues are the colors of December, and SAD is just something you deal with around the holidays. For you, winter is only one season.
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