Staying Motivated: A Toolkit for People with SAD
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In the US, 10 million people are estimated to have seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. This isnít just a fitting acronym, but is its own category of major depression, defined by symptoms that occur during the same time every year. From lethargy to lack of sleep to difficulty concentrating and focusing, SAD can significantly impact your ability to stay motivated at work and at home. It can even prevent us from feeling motivated to participate in activities we enjoy and love.
So how do we make sure that even though we may feel sad, we arenít overwhelmed by SAD? First and foremost, talk to your health care professional. Whether you visit your primary care doctor or a mental health counselor, be sure to find out as much as you can about your SAD diagnosis, especially before you start taking any supplements. Then, consider putting one (or all!) of these tools in your arsenal against SAD.
Go Au Naturale: Nature has some amazing all-natural ways to regulate mood. You can try increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. You can also use cannabidiol (CBD) daily to help reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to depression and anxiety. Chemically speaking, the more inflammation in the brain, the less dopamine being produced, which has shown to decrease motivation in lab animals.
Listen to Your Gut: Literally. Studies show that the balance of your gut bacteria has a direct impact on serotonin production, which in turn has a direct impact on mood and energy levels. Adding a probiotic to your diet can help bring balance to your mood and sustain higher energy levels throughout the day. A healthy gut can mean we approach decisions with less apathy and more enthusiasm.
Start a Gratitude Journal: Writing about things you are grateful for can help joy linger at the forefront of your mind. Taking the time every day to put down on paper what you are grateful for can help sustain your interest in maintaining relationships, staying social and practicing self-care. When you acknowledge the things that bring you joy, you yearn for more experiences like them.
Celebrate Everything: Did you put on jeans instead of sweat pants today? Celebrate. Did you work out today? Celebrate. Did you decide to live your life today instead of avoiding work and responsibilities? Celebrate! Every action big or small that takes you one step further away from SAD should be recognized for the milestone that it is.
Exercise Early and Often: If you donít exercise first thing, you will easily talk yourself out of going to the gym, hitting the streets for a run or popping into an evening yoga class. Exercise is a natural defense against depression, but itís also a natural energy booster, as well. Exercise improves heart health all day, which gives you greater endurance and maybe even some energy left over so you can accomplish personal and professional goals.
Stay in the Moment: Every moment is a miracle. Itís true and itís real. Focus on staying present to the moment and youíll start seeing, feeling and believing in that miracle. When you worry less about the future and let go of hurts from the past, you are more motivated to enjoy the present. When managing SAD, you may not always enjoy the present moment, but you can make the effort to be okay it. Youíll feel more calm throughout the day, using energy for productive tasks instead of wasting it on needless anxiety and worry.
Since SAD occurs the same time each year, you can begin to anticipate its patterns and prepare for them by trying one or more tips and techniques to manage your depression. From adding a CBD oil tincture to your coffee to exercising first thing when you wake up, you can take steps to manage your depression symptoms before they even start.