Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s triggered by the change in seasons. According to the American Psychiatric Association, it affects about 5 percent of U.S adults. People diagnosed with SAD experiences mood swings and symptoms similar to depression. This usually occurs in the fall and winter months, seasons with less sunlight. In the United States, there is a notable spike in SAD in January and February and is less common during the summer.
However, even if you aren’t clinically diagnosed with SAD, it is common to feel down during the winter months.
Barbara Nosal, Ph.D., a chief clinical officer at Newport Academy said that one way to perk up only takes 3 seconds to do and that is, right when you wake up, open your blinds.
Dr. Nosal continued, saying that spending time outside helps regulate hormones and neurotransmitters that have strong effects on mood, behavior and the body’s natural rhythmic patterns. If you aren’t able to go outside, you can start by filling in your living area and working spaces with natural light. So before getting ready to start the day, make sure to throw open all your curtains and blinds.
For gloomy and cloudy days, consider investing in a light therapy box, which imitates natural sunlight. Dr. Nosal says that this “naturally stimulates the body’s circadian rhythms and suppresses the release of melatonin.” She adds that exposing yourself to natural light for about 30 minutes a day has been found to be beneficial for those with SAD.