Mind

5 ways to combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Beat the winter blues with these mood-boosting homewares & gadgets

If the winter blues from the gloomy and cold weather have hit you with full force, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that up to 10% of New Zealanders suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression during the autumn and winter months, a depressive disorder caused by reduced levels of sunlight.

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal depression symptoms range from experiencing low energy or sluggishness, feeling hopeless or sad, having difficulty concentrating, and losing interest in activities you used to enjoy. These symptoms may leave you feeling like you are hibernating and withdrawing socially.

How do people cope with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

If SAD is impacting your mental health or daily routine, it’s best to chat with your doctor or health professional to explore treatment options. As well as getting some vitamin D from the sun’s rays where you can, read on for five ways to feel better despite the seasonal changes.

1. Try a SAD light therapy lamp

From left: Verilux HappyLight, $39.99 (usually $44.95), from Amazon. Unbrand SAD Light Therapy Lamp, $79, from Fruugo.

A SAD light therapy lamp stimulates natural sunlight, allowing you to regulate your circadian rhythms, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels. Importantly, look out for the light intensity, as an effective SAD light therapy lamp requires a brightness level of at least 10,000 lux.

2. Find comfort in a weighted blanket

From left: Hand Woven Weighted Blanket (9kg), $199 (usually $399), from Calming Blankets. Bamboo Weighted Blanket (11kg), $176 (usually $220), from Ecosa.

Regular users of weighted blankets say they are incredibly calming and comforting during winter. It’s believed that the pressure from a weighted blanket can release serotonin to improve your mood. It’s like giving yourself a warm, comforting hug.

3. Uplift your senses with an aromatherapy essential oil diffuser

From left: The Goodnight Co. Wave Essential Oil Diffuser, $120.08, from The Iconic. ECO. Modern Essentials Ultimate Wellbeing Essential Oils Collection, $157.99, from The Iconic.

The power of scent cannot be overstated when you’re feeling depressed. An aromatherapy essential oil diffuser can create a relaxing and inviting atmosphere in your home. You can also experiment with essential oil blends to find the perfect scent for calm or help you feel energised. Aromatherapy diffusers by dispersing essential oils into the air. These elegant gadgets come in various sizes, styles, and shapes for any decor. They are fantastic for chasing away the winter blues.

4. Wake up with a sunrise lamp

From left: Loop Lamp, $499, from Osin. SmarterHome Smart Sleep Aid & Wake Up Light, $59.99 (usually $129.99), from Kogan.

If you’re not quite ready to try a SAD lamp, try a sunrise lamp. After all, waking up on cold, dark mornings can be a struggle, so a light that simulates a sunrise to gradually wake you up with increasing levels of light and sound is much more pleasant and natural than a blaring alarm clock. The Osin Loop Lamp takes this concept one step further and is a light you can use all day to support the realignment of your circadian rhythm. Ultimately, a sunrise lamp may lift your energy levels, regulate your internal clock, and improve your mood during the day.

5. Cosy up with an electric heated blanket

From left: Sunbeam Feel Perfect Faux Fur Heated Throw, $279, from Andoo. Jason Plush Heated Throw, $68, from Spotlight.

Snuggling up under a soft, warm blanket on the couch or under the duvet covers is one of winter’s greatest pleasures. Wrap yourself in your heated blanket or throw while reading, watching TV or sleeping, and make winter a season of comfort and joy.

While seasonal affective disorder can be debilitating, it doesn’t have to rule your life. Incorporating these mood-boosting tech gadgets and homewares into your daily routine may coax you to beat the winter blues and help you boost your mental health.

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