by Catherine Pratt
As I mentioned in "I'm So Tired - My Personal Experience with SAD", some of the symptoms of SAD can be quite severe.
Here are the 4 things I do which make the biggest difference. As you'll see, SAD can be quite manageable. You just need to know how to deal with SAD and then it doesn't take over your life.
Getting additional light is the most important thing I concentrate on and I have two “SAD Lights” which I use. These are basically specially designed lamps which provide 5,000 to 10,000 lux of light (lux is a measurement of light intensity). This is much more than you would get from a regular light.
I sit in front of my light for about 20 minutes while I have breakfast in the morning. The one I use in the morning I bought from a company in Montreal, Canada called Northern Light Technologies. The style I have is the Sadelite.
As you can see it looks like a normal desk lamp. A little on the industrial looking side but still a normal lamp.
The other SAD light which I bought at a local drugstore is called the Litebook and I keep this one at work. I’ll use it on the days when I haven’t had time to sit in front of the other one. I like the one I bought from Montreal better but it’s not as portable as the other one.
I have a more detailed SAD Light review of the two lights I personally own which you can read.
It only took about 3 days of using the lightbox to notice a huge difference. After those few days, I was suddenly filled with energy and felt so much better.
I also try to go for a walk at lunchtime every day just so that I can get some natural light. I find that this also extremely important to do.
There are now a wide variety of different SAD lights you can purchase. Some look just like desk lamps, others are good for traveling, and some work to wake you up in the morning like a "dawn" light. Here is a little slideshow of some of the more common SAD lights you'll find:
I’d highly recommend reading “The Schwarzbein Principle” and “The Schwarzbein Principle II (the second book has a whole chapter on what happens when we have low levels of Serontonin and how to fix it). You can read my review of the book here: Review of the Schwarzbein Principle. This was life altering for me and really helped me to be able to understand what was happening to my body and what I could do about it. I am finally able to manage my SAD. It doesn’t take over my life like it used to.
Avoiding pasta, sugar, and caffeine make a dramatic difference. Yes, all the things I crave so much when I have SAD. I also make sure that I take Vitamin D every day. From recent research, Vitamin D deficiency is appearing to be a huge factor in SAD and it's symptoms. You can read more about this at: benefit of Vitamin D.
Lately, I've also been following the GAPS Diet which believes in healing the gut to increase your immunity and also heal any inflammation within your body. From being on this diet, I discovered I had a severe allergy to milk proteins. So, this along with some of its other advice has been really helpful in getting me to feel better healthwise.
I know I’m not going to have as much energy in the Winter as I do in the summer. So, instead of getting frustrated with it, I work with it. I tend to get more sleep in the winter and I listen to my body. When I’m feeling really tired, I try not to push it as hard. Although, I will try to go for a walk every day because even that amount of exercise seems to make a difference for me. It’s easy to get caught on the downward spiral of “I don’t feel like going today. I’ll go tomorrow” and I’ll end up getting more and more tired because I’m not getting that extra bit of light.
Unless you're able to afford to move to a sunnier place during the winter, there’s no use in being angry and frustrated with how dark it is in the winter. You can’t change it so that’s a waste of energy. Accept it, work with it. Someone told me once that we should look forward to winter cause that’s when you get to get caught up on your sleep.
I do know though that there are certain places in the world that are not good for me to live. Places that are grey and overcast most of the time are not for me. I also will avoid jobs where I would be working at night or doing a lot of shift work. That’s just me though.
I tend to try and tell my managers what I have because in the Winter there are some days I just can’t make it to work on time. Most people are really understanding. If they know what you’re dealing with they can try and work with you (change your hours, put you near a window, etc.). If they don’t know and your whole personality just changes, it makes it far more difficult for them to handle.
I've also explained it to my friends and family so they have a better understanding of what I'm going through and also how they can help me.
I can get it even in the summer if I’m working in an office without windows
I discovered that I can get SAD in the summer if I work in an office without windows. Sometimes, I can even start to feel the symptoms after a lengthy period of grey, rainy days. I have a lightbox at work so I can use that when I feel the signs of it.
Know the signs
I’m aware of the signs of SAD so as soon as I notice a signal, I can take action whether that’s by eating better or getting outside more or using my light again in the morning. By paying attention to my body, I can do something before it gets out of hand.
As you can see, dealing with SAD is not all that hard. I also like the fact that it doesn't require me to take drugs or to alter my life dramatically. These suggestions are also good for you in that you're taking better care of yourself which you should be doing anyway.
Getting a SAD light and making little changes in your life can mean that you no longer struggle through life and you'll feel like a human being again. It's definitely worth trying if you do have SAD. You'll just be so relieved to get your life back.
Review of the Sadelite and the Litebook
If you think you might want to buy a SAD light, it can be a little confusing as to the different types. This is a review of the two different kinds I use: the Sadelite and the Litebook.
More articles on possible reasons for feeling tired all the time are: