Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically affects people during the fall, winter, and early spring months of the year. This is a condition which, because it occurs on a fairly predictable schedule, can be reasonably managed and possibly even prevented with the appropriate measures implemented at certain times of the year. Cultivating a nuanced awareness of yourself and sticking to a proactive treatment plan are both key to managing symptoms and preventing them from affecting your life.
How to prioritize your mental health:
- Eat foods that support brain function: Foods that support good gut health also support brain function, emotional wellness, and nervous system regulation. These include foods with lots of natural prebiotics and probiotics, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, plus plenty of fruits and vegetables. Processed foods and foods with lots of added sugars should be avoided or eliminated altogether.
- Get enough sleep: Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep, with an average of 8 hours of sleep being the usual recommendation. Some adults may need as much as 10 hours of sleep per night in order to feel fully rested and emotionally regulated. Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to undermine emotional and mental health, so be sure to get enough sleep in order to prioritize your mental health.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day: Exercising at least 30 minutes per day has been shown to boost mental health significantly. If you don’t have an exercise routine built into your day to day schedule, make it a point to add some form of physical movement to each day’s activities. You can try new activities and repeat the ones that you enjoy the most. Having an accountability partner can help you stick to your exercise goals. Also, finding a wide variety of movements that you enjoy doing will help you stay motivated to do at least 30 minutes of some kind of exercise per day.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated can work wonders for your mental health. This is an easy, conscious action that you can undertake in order to prioritize your emotional wellness and regulation, as well as your physical health. Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol can hurt your mental health, so limiting these drinks is important.
- Engage in a mindfulness practice: In addition to exercising your body each day for mental health benefits, you should also set aside time to meditate, engage in breathing exercises, or engage in some other form of mindfulness practice on a daily basis in order to prioritize your mental health and emotional wellness. Regular meditation has been shown to increase feelings of kindness and compassion, lower stress, and lower symptoms of anxiety and depression. People who engage in a regular mindfulness practice also tend to sleep better and feel better on a day-to-day basis.
- Meet with a licensed therapist/counselor: Meeting regularly with a licensed therapist or counselor is a major way to prioritize your mental health. Simply taking the time to talk to someone about your problems and develop coping mechanisms can go a long way. Call Chenal Family Therapy today!