Connect With the Sun to Combat Depression

If the season's short days have you down, this is the time to recharge
March 1, 2021 Updated: March 1, 2021

If winter has left you feeling drained and down, the pending spring makes this an opportune time to recharge.

Like nearly all living things, you are bound to the sun in a special biochemical relationship that extends from your immune system, to what you eat, to how you feel through the cycle of the seasons. One example is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression brought by the short days and grey skies of winter. Those who experience SAD have the additional weight of this year’s pandemic as well.

Stress, anxiety, and sadness can make it challenging to muster energy or enthusiasm. This can lead to more sedentary time, overeating, and social isolation.

Getting sunlight and social connection is an important way to get out of this state. Just as the sun draws plants from seeds buried in the ground, it can nurture something inside of you that only needs a bit more energy and warmth to come alive.

For many people, increasing light exposure boosts energy and for some, it will also relieve depressive symptoms.

Getting as much sunlight as possible, even through a window, has been shown to help people with SAD. So, when you wake up each day, open curtains and blinds to let natural light flood in. Even if it’s a cloudy day, the natural light can help. This practice can also help settle your circadian rhythm and support a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Sit near the windows as much as possible to get direct exposure. Do your best to get outside for a walk each day, as both the light and the movement can increase your energy.

If more light is required, you can try a lightbox. These are specially designed lights that emit a soft, steady spectrum of light that mimics the sun and can help treat SAD.

Other things you can do to help cope with the dark, short days of the season include:

  • Finding ways to boost physical activity. Dancing at home, walks, snowshoeing, etc., can all help improve energy levels.
  • Set a consistent schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and get into a routine.
  • Ensure that you’re getting adequate nutrition each day to keep your energy up.
  • Dedicate time each day to relax and do things you enjoy.
  • Talk to friends and family to stay socially connected. Try booking virtual chats/phone calls in advance, so you have something to look forward to.

Mat Lecompte is a freelance health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.