Midday Fix: Tips for fighting seasonal affective disorder

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James LaValle

jimlavalle.com

Signs:

Energy Slumps: Specifically if you notice increased tiredness and lower energy. Humans don’t hibernate so you should feel as energetic in the fall and winter as you do the rest of the year! If you find it difficult to bring yourself to fulfill normal, daily obligations, it might be more than just a slump.

Increased Appetite: Again, you are not a bear and your body does not need to store up food to hibernate for the winter. In fact, you probably need fewer calories than you did in the summer when activity levels are higher. So if you find yourself constantly craving foods, especially those high in carbohydrates, it may be a sign that you are experiencing SAD.

Heavy Limbs: SAD involves a complicated interplay between the brain and the body. If you start feeling a heavy “leaden” sensation in your arms and legs this isn’t normal. It could be the brain’s nerve signals are having trouble getting across synapses that are involved in moving body parts. When the signals get disrupted, not only do people have trouble thinking, they have trouble getting their body to do what they want. This can result in your limbs moving so slowly that you may feel like they are moving through quicksand.

Increased Irritability: If you find yourself wanting to spend more time alone than usual, if daily situations are annoying you more frequently or if you’re feeling more sensitive to social rejection than normal, these could all be signs of SAD. 

Tips:

Sync with the Sun:
If you are experiencing SAD you may not be producing enough melatonin, which can cause difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Others with SAD may have disrupted sleep, leading to oversleeping.  Go straight to a window upon awaking in the morning to get as much light in the eyes as possible to shut off nighttime melatonin. This also helps to boost the morning spike in your body’s dopamine levels to help you stay alert. Using full spectrum lights that block ultraviolet light (UV) in the home or office during the daytime can also be helpful. And setting a solid sleep schedule that syncs to sunrise and sunset is ideal.

Carb-proof Your Diet:
Despite best intentions, even when you attempt to cut portions of unhealthy foods during the holidays, most people still overeat them, which can disrupt normal glucose metabolism. However there’s a way to manage it so you don’t spike your glucose as much. Taking a proprietary white kidney bean extract, called Phase 2 (known as: Phaseolus vulgaris), reduces the digestion and absorption of starch in carb-loaded foods like breads, pastas, cereals, potatoes, rice, stuffing, corn and other grains, without significantly affecting essential nutrients and with no side effects. Studies show taking one or two capsules before a meal can block up to 65 percent of unwanted carbohydrates and when used as part of a calorie deficit diet, it gave better results for weight loss than dieting alone.

Force the Exercise Routine:
It’s hard to get your sweat on outside when the weather is not cooperating so you have to force yourself into a new indoor exercise routine and stick with it. Even light body movement or yoga (which also helps with stress management) can be very helpful as movement helps circulation in the body, which also creates more brain activity.

Cuddle More:
Winter is the best time to bask in the warmth of another and has been scientifically proven to make you a happier person. Studies show cuddling holds many mental and physical benefits including reducing stress, anxiety and depression as well as strengthening the immune system.

Create a Cold-Weather Bucket List:
Summer shouldn’t be the only season with a must-do list. When the temperatures drop there are still many amazing things you can accomplish. Set some winter bucket list goals and start tackling them one at a time and then winter will fly by before you can say hello to spring.