Living With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Plenty of people experience a hint of the winter blues as harsh weather keeps us shut up indoors, but seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a more serious form of depression. Fortunately, there are effective forms of treatment. These are the basic facts about SAD and how to feel better year round.

Understanding the Facts About SAD

  1. Distinguish between SAD and other forms of depression. SAD often resembles other types of depression. The key difference is that your symptoms are limited to the same season each year.
  2. Recognize the symptoms. With SAD, you’re likely to feel sad and irritable. You may be hungry all the time with especially strong cravings for carbohydrates like bread and pasta. It’s also common to feel drowsy and sleep more.
  3. Be aware of the different varieties of SAD. This condition usually strikes in the winter, but not always. For some people, the heat and humidity of summer serve as triggers.
  4. Know your risk factors. The highest risk of SAD occurs between the ages of 15 and 55. As you age, you’re less likely to develop SAD. It’s more common in women and in areas where winter days are shorter and the amount of light changes dramatically according to the season. Family history also plays a role.

Strategies for Living With SAD

  1. Increase your exposure to light. Home remedies are sometimes all you need. Try using brighter lights and spending more time outdoors in the sun. Morning light is especially important.
  2. Try out light therapy. If your symptoms are more intense, your physician will probably prescribe light therapy. You spend just about a half hour a day exposed to a special box lamp. There are few side effects and many people enjoy immediate relief. For others, simple complementary activities do the trick.
  3. Get more exercise. Regular exercise is beneficial for coping with most forms of depression, including SAD. Schedule a workout first thing in the morning like a brisk walk around the neighborhood or Tai Chi in your backyard.
  4. Manage stress. Be extra gentle with yourself while you’re recovering. Take time to relax through meditation or listening to instrumental music.
  5. Aim for good quality sleep. Your body will try to get extra sleep when you have SAD. Help make that slumber restorative by avoiding alcohol and caffeine and sticking to a regular early bedtime.
  6. Watch your weight. SAD can lead to weight gain. Protect your health by exercising longer to burn more calories. When you get cravings, reach for healthy, low-fat carbohydrates like whole wheat bread and brown rice.
  7. Do some traveling. If your budget and schedule permit, SAD is one of the few issues you can run away from. Go where the weather suits your needs better. Try spending a week in Jamaica.
  8. Stick with your doctor’s recommendations. Your doctor can advise you on whether antidepressants may be helpful. Even if your symptoms clear up, follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you discontinue treatment too soon, you may suffer a rebound.
  9. See a counselor. Talk therapy is another valuable resource. It may help you address underlying issues and keep SAD from interfering with your daily life.

While winter cold can be daunting, the change of seasons can also be an opportunity to appreciate nature and shake up your daily routines. A little more exposure to morning light may be all you need to stay well. If you think you could be experiencing symptoms of SAD, talk with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you.

Nurse Sore Muscles Back to Health With These Home Remedies

The discomfort of sore muscles has plagued us all. Regardless of our age, a stressed muscle can become sore when we start an exercise regimen, perform excessive manual labor, or even stay seated in the same position for too long! These aches and pains can make performing necessary tasks unbearable.

Soothe your aching muscles and nurse them back to health with these natural remedies:

1. Take a break. If your sore muscles are a consequence of overexertion or exercise, continuing the strenuous activity won’t help ease the soreness. Therefore, you should take a break from the routine so your muscles get a chance to recover.

  • Muscle soreness from overexertion is the result of microscopic tears in the muscle tissue caused by the stress of the activity. Your body needs time to repair itself.
  • If you start to experience soreness or stiffness during an activity, stop for a while.

2. Soak in Epsom salt or vinegar. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate and can replace lost magnesium in the body, thus helping to keep the muscles pliable and loose. Vinegar is very effective at pulling out lactic acid from the muscles, which contributes to soreness.

    • Fill tub with warm water.
    • As the tub is being filled, add two cups of Epsom salts or two cups of white vinegar.
    • Soak the body, especially the sore muscles, for half an hour.

    3. Use an ice pack. If possible, apply the ice immediately as soon as you feel the soreness. Keep the ice pack on the sore area for about 20 minutes and then remove it for another 20 minutes. Repeat the process a couple times. This process works great for muscle soreness due to injury. The ice helps reduce the inflammation and allows your body to repair itself.
    4. Get a massage. Usually, muscle stiffness and soreness is also accompanied by restricted blood flow. A massage can help stimulate the flow of blood around the sore areas. Here are some helpful tips:

      • You don’t need to pay for a professional massage; all you need to do is gently rub the area yourself.
      • Apply this technique right after you’ve applied the ice pack and you’ll get better results.

      5. Boost your potassium levels. If you’re susceptible to muscle soreness or stiffness, it’s very possible that your potassium levels are low. You can quickly raise those levels by eating more bananas, which are rich in potassium.

      • Drinking lots of water can also help to relieve and prevent stiff, painful muscles.

      6. Apply apple cider vinegar. Depending on the source of the soreness, you can do either a warm compress or a cold compress. Soaking the compress tool in apple cider vinegar is a great way to extract the lactic acid that contributes to sore muscles.

      These home remedies are excellent for nursing your sore muscles back to health. Ignoring the soreness or disregarding it as something that will eventually pass may not be the best idea! Make every effort to heal the muscles before jumping back into your usual routine.