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How to battle "Seasonal Affective Disorder"



 

I'm not a doctor...nor do I pretend to be an expert on Seasonal Affective Disorder, nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.   I do, however, know that this time of year can be a real drag.  As a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, I've noticed that around about Halloween I feel like I am more prone to my two favorite deadly sins ...Sloth, and Gluttony.  Regardless of how much this time of year does/doesn't have an effect on you, there is no debating that the mornings are dark, the evenings are DARKER.  With that, it is easy to want to hunker down on a rainy day, order a pizza and test the limits of your Netflix account. 

So what steps can we take to mitigate the effects of this gray, dreary time of year?
 
Be aware:  Like with anything, you need to be aware of how you feel.  Mind, Body, Soul, etc.  Are you finding yourself dragging in the mornings, and throughout the day?  Are you ignoring more phone calls and texts from friends than you normally would?  Is your motivation to get into the gym, or even do the daily stuff a struggle?  If yes to any of these, you may have a little something going on.
 
Get your sleep:  This time of year, more than any other, it is easy to end up getting lost in a movie, the late night news, or simply scrolling on your phone until it is WAY past your bedtime.  On the flip side, it is also easier than ever for us to get nice, long stretches of sleep in a pitch black environment.  Take advantage of this.  If you haven't blacked out your room, go ahead and do so now.  Go so far as to put tape over any small LED lights on things like the TV set, alarm clock, or any other ambient light source.  Make your bedroom a cave and get after it.  Plan out how many hours you want to sleep and stick to your schedule.  Shoot for 7-8 hours a night, minimum.  One of the most wise pieces of advice I ever heard was "Sleep as much as you can without getting fired or divorced."  Love that one.  You may think that much sleep is crazy talk, based on your schedule, but try it for 2 weeks and tell me you don't feel like a million bucks!
 
Eat Clean:  "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat...."  'nuff said...Get started here and here.  Or check out some of the recipes we've been sharing recently.
 
Supplement:  We always talk about things like Fish Oil and Post workout Protein.  These are important, no doubt about it.  But this time of year, it's not a bad idea to add in a little Vitamin D3.  Read more about why here, but in short, it's all about simulating the same hormone response you get by getting more sunlight.  I did this a few years ago, and I'll tell you, there were some other benefits, like a slimmer waistline, feeling more energetic, and alert.  You can find a good concentrated supplement at any grocery store, or pharmacy.  Get the little bottle of liquid drops.  It's odorless and tasteless...so there's really no excuse.
 
Get outside:  It sounds overly simple, but go take a walk.  Sun, Rain, Wind, Snow, who cares.  Get outside and enjoy 10-15 minutes of fresh air every couple of hours as you walk around your neighborhood, business park, whatever.  Just spend a little time outdoors.  It does wonders for your state of mind.  The uglier the day outside, the better.  We live a pretty pampered life, there is something to be said for facing just a teeny, tiny bit of adversity.  Sharpens us up!
 
Workout:  You knew I was going to say this.  But that's what we're here for.  We are that hour a day that you don't need to think about anything other than what is right in front of you and every rep makes you a better human.  Nothing sets your mood in the right direction like a PR, pushing yourself to your limit, or just simply picking up something heavy.
 
Bottom line is this...I know this time of year can get you down.  Just know that you have the tools at hand to help feel a little bit better.  Soon enough the sun will be back and we as proper Seattle-ites can start complaining about that too ;-).
 
Cheers,
 
Coach Shane