It’s that time of year, people. It gets dark super early, it’s cold, and it’s grey. What is that doing to your mood? Because it’s killing mine.
I am no stranger to mental health troubles, so I am familiar with the effect they can have on general health and well-being, as well as motivation.
I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder as a teenager (more about that here), and have consistently battled depression at varying intensities since I can remember. As an adult, I’ve been acutely aware of my anxiety and depression and how it affects me in my day-to-day life, something like an out-of-body experience. I know it’s there, but I’m helpless to do anything about it when it really has me down.
A specific form of depression I’ve struggled with as I’ve gotten older is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to Mental Health America, SAD, “or the ‘winter blues,’ is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that occurs and ends around the same time every year. Seasonal depression typically occurs when the seasons change and most symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter months.”
It usually takes a few months for it to kick in for me, and I think that’s because fall is my favorite season, so I’m usually too busy soaking that up to let the bad juju get to me. But when it does, it kicks in really hard. Winter months are so, so hard for me. I’m tired, I’m irritable, I’m sad for no reason about absolutely nothing, I want to eat everything in sight, and I want to avoid social situations. All key symptoms of SAD.
This this will be my first year running through winter, it will be interesting to see if/when/how hard SAD kicks in. I’m sincerely hoping that SAD doesn’t take the wind out of my training sails. I really need to keep the good momentum going to train for runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend!
The International Business Times posted a short piece about SAD and how to battle it. Here’s what they suggested:
- Walk towards the light: Walking outdoors every morning can help people suffering SAD as it is related to a lack of sunlight.
- Take your vitamins: Experts believe that the intake of vitamins, especially vitamin D can help fight fatigue and lack of focus.
- Stay connected: Being in the presence of people and not restricting yourself to indoor activities can help cope with SAD as isolation adds to the feeling of depression.
- Exercise: Getting involved in some fitness activities can help in lifting your spirit.
- Maintain regular schedule: Try to keep a note of the time when you sleep. Maintaining a regular schedule everyday can help with excess sleeping.
Image Credit: Moms RUN This Town
With this in mind, it could be that running this winter should help my SAD symptoms. With the exception of vitamins, all of the other points can be covered by the group runs I’ve been doing with my local MRTT chapter. I tend to run in the morning, I’ll be running with other people outdoors, I’ll be exercising, and I’m on a training schedule.
There is hope!
Do you suffer from SAD in winter months? What do you do to battle the symptoms?