Seasonal Affective Disorder

For some of us, dreary weather drains our energy and leaves us feeling lethargic. Other folks are unable to function at work, or within close relationships due to seasonal weather patterns. Here is what you should know about SAD:

  • Form of depression starting in fall/winter
  • Decreased energy
  • Decreased concentration
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased sleep

The National Alliance on Mental Illness gives a general overview of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

The “winter blues” are not the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder. The “winter blues” only mildly influences our daily living, but can still curb our energy and productivity. Here are some tips that help combat both the “winter blues” and Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  • light therapy
  • spend more time outdoors in the winter
  • add additional bright lights in your home

Remember, consult a professional if you are concerned about the above mentioned symptoms. If you suspect that you might have SAD, a self-assessment is available at The Center for Environmental Therapeutics.

Managing Holiday Season Stress

The holiday season is a joyous time, and Christmas is only one week away as I write this post. It’s a time to relax, reconnect with family and friends, and outfit the home with festive decorations. Most of us are also juggling gift shopping, wrapping presents, traveling, and perhaps worrying about the additional expenses that come with the holidays.

Here are some tips to buffer against stress over the holidays.

  • Delegate– Do you really have to do all the Christmas shopping yourself? No! Even if you are the best gift shopper and wrapper, you can still delegate other tasks such as grocery shopping, childcare, food prep, and daily household chores.
  • Create a budget– I’m assuming that you haven’t been saving all year for gifts. The only way to know how much money you have to spend toward the holidays is by calculating disposable money from paid bills. Withdraw this money from the bank and shop for presents using cash only. Decide in advance how much you will spend on each gift, and stick to your budget. If money is tight, consider baking or creating coupons such as “one night of free childcare.”
  • Use your planner– Keep track of events and errands by writing them down in your calendar or planner. Alleviate unnecessary mental energy needed to remember details. Just be sure to check your planner every day!
  • Create lists that include reasonable tasks- Feeling overwhelmed? What REALLY has to get done today? Write these down, and breakdown bigger tasks into smaller, manageable ones. You may realize that what you’re dreading is quite feasible. Also, checking off as you complete your tasks easily creates a sense of accomplishment.
  • Avoid over scheduling- Practice saying “No.” Selecting the most important activities to attend and declining the rest promotes good personal boundaries and putting yours needs first.
  • Use an easy relaxation technique- Breathe. Deeply. Practice inhaling to the count of four, hold for four, and exhaling to the count of four. Deep breathing is an effective way of staving off anxiety.

Thanksgiving: Healthy Eating

While the holidays are  a festive time of year, they can be a bit stressful too.

Usually, one of the concerns I hear about from others is a fear of overeating during Thanksgiving. This fear can create unneeded stress during a time when we should be relaxing and having fun with family and friends.

Overeating during Thanksgiving is something that most of us can relate to. So, what are some tips for controlling our weight this Thanksgiving?

Mandy Seay, LD, RD is a registered and licensed dietitian and author, and has provided several smart suggestions for eating healthy and keeping your weight in check this Thanksgiving.

Here are a few of Mandy’s tips:

  • Keep a realistic frame of mind. Trying to lose weight during the holidays can be frustrating and if you restrict too much you may throw in the towel and just binge. Instead of trying to lose weight, just try to maintain your current weight.
  • Drink plenty of water, staying hydrated controls the appetite. It is not uncommon to confuse thirst cues for hunger.  A study conducted in which participants drank 2 glasses of water before eating, were able to control their food intake thereby losing and controlling weight.
  • Don’t skip meals in an effort to “save” up your calories. You will be more likely to eat more calories than if you had eaten your normal meals.

You can read the rest of Mandy’s great tips here.

Let’s take the stress out of the annual Thanksgiving gathering by using strategies to eat smart and healthy!

Happy Thanksgiving!