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Alternative management options, if Light Therapy isn't for you...

Welcome and I hope you have joy in your life today. Living a life with joy, even when circumstances are not what you expected or care for, is possible when you choose to do all that you can to be and stay healthy; both from the inside and out. It really is a choice to be joyful and at peace with yourself, but it has to be intentional; nothing is happenstance in this game of life, right? Moving on to alternatives for treating SAD with Light Therapy means we leave that type of treatment for now. To share a truth, again from our book, Winter Blues, about one-third of those treated with Light Therapy fail to respond to it, to experience any benefit.

For starters, to accept that you have SAD is the first thing, but understanding to what degree it impedes on your ability to live joyfully and be productive is critical. To the degree you experience symptoms, is really your own personal benchmark and defines your "brand" of SAD. Today, for me, the symptoms are quite mild compared to what I remember going through during the 80's, as I have said before. Light Therapy would not be necessary for me today, but I sure could have used it then.

Let's talk about something I've read recently from a few women that have SAD and trying to manage/change their symptoms. And, bring in some great options from Dr. Rosenthal:

  1. Winter vacations - Yep, I like this one too! Spending time in a sunny place; for instance, how about Florida for those who live in North America. A couple of weeks could provide a big boost in mood and give you a huge shot of Vitamin D. Or, if possible, you could stay for the entire season of your symptoms. Some, from their posts on social media, have made the decision to pull up stakes and move to a place with a climate more conducive to avoid typical northern winter weather. Remember though, symptoms often return when you come back from vacation and some even feel worse after having the benefit of sunnier climate. Either way, take along your sunscreen!!!

  2. Diet and Exercise - Of course you already knew that what we eat and what we do affects our mood! Diet alone is a battle with those with SAD because eating provides a physical, mental and emotional comfort. And, it's something to do. It's so easy to put on weight during a time when you don't feel like exercising. Unlike during the summer, when you get your energy back and you're "doing" more, thus making it is easy to lose weight. This cycle just adds to the distress one is already feeling. To sum it up, diet and exercise should be part of your SAD maintenance. And, non negotiable!

  3. Meditation - For this blog I am suggesting meditation that you can do by simply lying down, closing your eyes and breathing. It refreshes your senses and it is like a reset button, helping you to just relax. Transcendental Meditation requires a certified teacher and is beyond the scope of this blog. I do understand that it is very helpful, however. The relaxation method I suggest is something I do, when I need to decompress and it is very beneficial; just being still, breathing in a comfortable position and in a quiet space.

  4. Stress Management - This may be a nice surprise and perhaps reading this will give you permission to make some changes. To help manage stress during your Seasonality, consider paying someone to do some of the chores, etc. that are difficult or you feel unable to complete. I did this as well when I was having a hard time coping with the demands of life in the 80's. I had a house cleaner for several months; one of the best decisions. And, it provided a little income for the person who helped me. Everyone benefited.

  5. Support from others with SAD - Finding like minded people about anything you are going through can help. People that can relate to you, have similar symptoms and experience the cyclical nature of SAD have first hand experience. Compassion and having common ground with other sufferers goes a long way. Sharing information and suggestions for treatment add validity because they have been where you are! People need people; it's part of the human experience.

  6. Psychotherapy, CBT and Medication - Being a huge advocate for getting help with anything to do with mindset, feelings or/and inability to function in a healthy way, I recommend you see a doctor for help. I am here to say that I made it through the fire swamp with the help of really really good therapists and a psychiatrist to boot! In this life, you are going to have troubles; that is true for all of us. But, you don't have to suffer when there is help available. And, you are so worth it!

  7. Doing Fun Things - What makes you happy? When you pursue activities that you enjoy, it elevates your mood! The result is more energy and a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. So good for you too! The challenge might be to remove obstacles, whatever that may be for you, plan ahead and keep the promise to yourself. Did you know that what you practice repeatedly changes the structure and function of your brain and shapes the quality of your life?

  8. At the end of the day - we all need to agree to embrace the truth that this thing called SAD may be part of our life and our challenge going forward indefinitely. Acceptance is part of the condition and being content with that truth can offer a sense of real peace in your life.

I hope you found this uplifting and maybe there is one thing in this list that you could implement into your day to help you! Until next time....have a great week, Jeanine


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