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Dealing with my SAD

I have had seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms for the last ten years. It did not hit me until after college when I started working an 8 pm - 5 pm job. I found myself leaving the office around 5:30 pm or 6 pm every day, and over the fall and winter months, that means that the sun has already gone down for the day. This lack of light of day leaves me feeling sad and unproductive, like I did not get anything done during day even though I work 8+ hours.

My SAD symptoms are low energy, loss of concentration, loss of interest, loss of productivity, sadness, and restlessness. These symptoms have been worst than ever this fall/winter season, probably because everything going on in my world (and the world).

About a month ago, I had a consultation with a therapist. We talked about my symptoms and she gave me the following tips to help me over the season.

  • Find opportunities to take breaks from work and go outside

  • Take calls/meetings outside on the patio, if possible

  • Adjust work schedule to finish work before the sun goes down

  • Find opportunities to spend more time outdoors in the winter; our bodies benefit from the cold air also

  • Keep a mood journal and document when you feel sad; try to find if there is something else that is triggering your symptoms of the fall-winter months

Here are a few other things I am doing.

  • Improving my work environment.

Two weeks ago I moved my desk to face the window versus how it was before with the window behind me, now I am facing the window and getting light on my face. If I stand up in front of my computer, I can look outside which is an added plus.

  • Getting some sunlight.

I make an effort to step outside during my lunch break. Now that we are spending more time at home, we started making our outdoor spaces more livable and friendly. We have a hammock on the patio, which my daughter enjoys. Getting some sunlight, spend time with daughter. It’s a win-win situation.

  • Tackling productivity.

To tackle my lack of motivation and productivity, I have to make a to-do list every day. I set deadlines for the tasks I have to do that day. I also set up dedicated focus times on my calendar. I use the Microsoft Outlook feature to automatically set focus time on my calendar every day, at least 30 minutes to 2 hours. I rarely get to have more than an hour of focus time on my calendar, but I have found it helpful so far this winter season. The dedicated focus time means no calls or web meetings so I get to play some music and get work done.

Do not ignore how you are feeling. I hope these tips can help you too, I hope you can find what works for you and makes you feel better over this fall/winter season. Consult your doctor or therapist to figure out what works for you. Take care!

This is a picture I snapped during a nice family walk about two months ago. I need to get as much sun as possible over the fall and winter season.

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