Contributed by: Ciara Floyd, NSCF-CPT, NSCA-CSCS

The holidays are over, the days are shorter, and the weather is getting colder.  Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that usually occurs during the fall and winter as the days get shorter and there is less daylight.  This can affect any individual and make every day tasks difficult.  It usually affects those that are further from the equator and those in their 20s or 30s.  The cause of SAD may be due to low levels of sunlight that can lead to lowered serotonin levels.  There may also be an increase in melatonin during times of low light which can lead to sleep disturbances and result in symptoms of SAD.

Many people set New Year’s resolutions to be more social or active.  SAD could derail you from these resolutions.  Here are three things you can do to help prevent SAD.

  1. Increase the amount of time you exercise to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week or a total of 150 minutes.
  2. Increase the amount of light in your home by adding a lamp or turning the lights on when sitting at home at night.
  3. Try to spend some time meditating or practicing stress relief techniques such as deep breathing.

Source:  “Seasonal Depression” http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/sad

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