3 Tips to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Here are my top 3 tips to help beat the February Blues (Seasonal Affective Disorder S.A.D.), that I have found personally helpful both to me and clients that suffer from S.A.D.

1. Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms. Being more fit along with keeping your weight in check will make you feel better about yourself, too, which will lift your mood. Working out aerobically will make your body pump out feel good endorphins, which are your body’s best mood elevators (or natural anti-depressants).

2. Get outside for 30 minutes of sun every day. Listen, I know that when it’s cold outside all you may want to do is stay inside. However, bundling up for a 30-minute walk will let the sun shine bright on your face, burn calories, and make your body pump endorphins. Try holding 2-pound dumbbells in your hands to involve your upper core, shoulders, and arms. It will increase your calorie burn by 33%. Or try snowshoeing or Nordic walking by adding ski poles, as you’ll also work your entire upper body and again burn 33% more calories. I promise you’ll feel so much better and invigorated after your walk outside. Recruit a walking buddy to talk it out too and lift your mood.

3. Light therapy box. Light therapy boxes may offer an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. A light therapy box is a device used mainly to treat S.A.D. Its use is also being studied in other types of depression. Light therapy mimics outdoor light. This causes a biochemical change in your brain that lifts your mood and reduces symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light therapy boxes are also known as light boxes, bright light therapy boxes and phototherapy boxes. 

You can buy a light therapy box over-the-counter, without a doctor’s prescription. Internet retailers, drugstores and even some hardware stores offer a wide variety of light therapy boxes and other light devices for seasonal affective disorder treatment.

But take caution before buying. Not all light therapy boxes being sold have been tested to make sure they’re safe and effective. Features such as light intensity, safety, cost, and style are important considerations when you buy a light box. And different light boxes work in different ways, using different parts of the light spectrum and offering different illumination intensities. That’s why it’s important to understand what you’re buying and what features to consider.

*Check with your health professional before buying a light therapy box.

Originally published in 2010