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You need natural light to start your day on a high note. Set aside some 30-40 minutes to be out in the open when the sun is out. “It definitely helps - a morning walk gives you a daylight boost as well as some exercise,” Scott-Thompson, who experiences SAD, as does every member of the organization, says. If you can’t, walk outside it in the early afternoons and the day is usually brightest. Sit next to a window when you you’re inside.
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A recent study has indicated that natural light in the office boosts health. Just sub “office” for “home.” Open the blinds or curtains. Remove anything that stands in the way of natural light getting into your home. Clean the windows to get rid of the dirt that may have accrued over the months. You may want to paint the walls in lighter colors. They reflect more sunlight, making the room brighter. Additional benefit is lower electricity bills because the room will need less artificial lighting.
Light therapy is the primary and best treatment for SAD, Scott-Thompson says. The cause of SAD is light in daylight wavelengths not hitting the eyes, which in sensitive people means the brain doesn't generate enough serotonin (‘happy’ hormone) and generates too much melatonin, causing all the other symptoms. “Using a light box with a large surface area really makes a difference,” Scott-Thompson says. To her, this is the most helpful “trick” in fighting SAD. They give out very bright light – at least 10 times stronger than ordinary home and office lighting. Some people have reported improvement within days. However, side effects such as headaches are possible.
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Almost everything that has to do with getting healthy (ier) has to do with eating smarter. Fighting SAD is no exception. Foods that are high on carbs are not recommended. They relieve symptoms for a little while but ultimately only increase feeling of anxiety and depression. Try almonds, walnuts, high protein nutriments – the usual good stuff – instead.
You may want to have one of those if you are not a morning person in general. If you have SAD, getting out of bed can be especially difficult because it’s still dark outside. This device is programmed to make the lights in your bedroom to gradually brighten over a set period of time. The lamp mimics a natural morning sunrise using long-life LED bulbs. You can literally take control or how you wake up.
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Walking fast for 30 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week can improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression, according to a Harvard study. Combine exercising with daylight, as opposed to walking on a treadmill at the gym, and you significantly increase your chances of beating winter blues.
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“As with anything related to mental health, having a good support network of friends is helpful,” Scott-Thompson says. Join a support group to get to know others going through the same thing. When you feel down, watching several shows at a time home alone won’t make you feel better. Isolating yourself will make SAD symptoms more intense. Simply going out for a drink with a friend or two can trigger happy feelings.
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Looking forward to something is an exciting feeling. Planning such event can only boost your happiness and research supports that theory. Keeping your mind active and preoccupied with joyful concerns keeps symptoms away. The important aspect is to be concentrated on something that brings you positive emotions.
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Staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half, according to the British National Health Service. SAD cases are rare among people living within 30 degrees latitude of the Equator. If you don’t reside in a place where warm weather is a constant, make sure you have enough layers on during the winter months so you don’t feel the cold.
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Science has proven it! Happy music makes happy people. To be technically correct, upbeat music can help but it doesn’t hurt to try. Another benefit of music is that it leads to social connections (another way to beat SAD). Music involves the use of both sides of the brain. That can maximize learning and retention of information.
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Self-help can only go so far. If nothing helps, see a doctor. SAD symptoms can significantly disrupt your professional and personal life. Don’t brush them off, thinking they’ll pass. There is no shame in asking for help. “When it's making a big difference to your daily life and ability to work or enjoy things, or when you’re suicidal, checking with your doctor is a good idea,” Scott-Thompson says.