How to Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Do you notice a change in your mood when the weather turns colder and you are exposed to fewer hours of daylight?

Approximately 20% of North Americans are impacted by seasonal change.

Once called the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that begins in the fall or winter and disappears by the next spring or summer.

If you find yourself suffering from the winter blues, adding regular exercise to your day may help. Getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily and three days of weight training per week is one of the most effective ways to combat this condition.  Studies have shown that exercising regularly is a great way of naturally boosting production of serotonin. When you exercise, your body also releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Exercise will also help wear you out so you feel sleepier at nighttime, which will also help regulate your body clock.

Getting outside for at least 20 minutes every day, preferably in the morning, is another great way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Try and spend some time outside every day. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get out but by exposing yourself to natural light you will naturally boost your serotonin levels which will have a big effect on your mood.

Finally, massage therapy has been shown to help oppose this condition.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression which can include symptoms of anxiety, sleep disturbances, general body pain and lack of energy. These symptoms make normal functioning difficult, bringing on stress. Stress and depression bring about an increase in cortisol, which further exacerbates the problems. Massage therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on most of these symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety.

Treating those with SAD is one of the many ways that massage therapists can offer real help to their clients as part of an integrative medical team.

Therapeutic massage helps stimulate the circulatory system which can help with the release of mood boosting hormones like serotonin and encourage the body’s production of endorphins, our natural painkillers. With decreased activity levels for many people during the winter months the circulatory benefits also help with increasing energy and immunity levels.

Many clients are using Massage Therapy as the number one tool to help them relieve their stress and tension while struggling with SAD.

Everyone suffers a bit of moodiness and mild malaise during the winter months, but when those symptoms begin to impact the quality and quantity of our activities of daily life, getting out of bed at all can become a monumental task. When sadness and lethargy begin to take over, it can be difficult to dig out of the depression that can result. Getting regular exercise, daily exposure to sunlight and massage therapy are three things that can be done to reduce symptoms of depression, improve mood and energy, and counteract this seasonal condition.

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