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With warm summer days in the rear-view mirror, and winter just on the horizon, seasonal depression is getting ready to rear its ugly head. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects roughly 5 percent of the U.S. Population every year. SAD’s symptoms include social withdrawal, lethargy, and changes in mood. The good news? A few lifestyle tweaks can help reduce the intensity of SAD. Combat seasonal depression using these five tips.
1. Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Reading about sleep is probably making you yawn already, which is no surprise since nearly 30 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. Not only does a lack of restorative sleep affect your memory, concentration, and judgement, but sleeping less than six to eight hours per night can significantly suppress your immune system. That’s bad news by the time cold and flu season hits. You can get your sleep back on track by keeping a consistent bed time and morning alarm, avoiding screens at least an hour before going to sleep, and decreasing your caffeine intake.
2. Set a Morning Routine
If you’re already avoiding tip No. 1 and calculating the latest you can sleep before being late for work, hear us out. Getting up at the same time every day helps you wake up faster and avoid grogginess. Likewise, planning out all of the simple things, such as what you’ll wear or have for breakfast, helps reduce mental fatigue. That way you’ll have much more energy to be sharp and focused decision maker.
3. Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Studies show that Americans drink the most between December and March. While we know that booze won’t actually keep you warmer in the cold weather, it’s still best to watch how much you’re drinking in the winter months. Developing a substance abuse problem is a major complication that can occur along with SAD.
4. Keep a Written Schedule
Winter may drain people of their motivation, but you can improve your chances of achieving your goals and responsibilities by physically writing them down. Studies have shown that those who write down what they need to get done are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to be successful than those who don’t. Beyond pen and paper, there are a number of apps that can help you manage your schedule and projects like a 21st Century pro.
5. Move Your Body
While you don’t have to trudge through the snow like you’re training to fight Ivan Drago, regular exercise has been proven countless times to improve mood, health, energy, sleep, and everything in between. Plus, you can stay motivated and fight the social isolation of winter by working out with a group.