How to Improve Mood and Mental Health When Summer Fades Away: Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder

For many people the onset of fall can trigger changes in health and wellness. Shorter days, less exposure to sunlight, and changes in daily schedule can lead increased feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness. Diet and exercise play an important role in maintaining physical and mental well-being. A 2011 study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that many people in the U.S have inadequate levels of vitamin D. Researchers suggest that detection and treatment of inadequate vitamin D levels in people with depression is an important factor in improving health and mental wellness. Check with your primary care doctor to determine if you have adequate levels of vitamin D.

When it is cool and rainy outdoors it is tempting to stay in bed later or skip outdoor exercise. But during the darker months exercise is more important to mental well-being than ever! It is easy to come up with excuses for not exercising:

I don’t want to get wet in the rain

Gyms are too expensive

It’s too cold outside

There isn’t enough time in the day

It’s easy to find a reason not to exercise. Yet numerous research studies have shown that for many people, regular exercise works as well as medication to reduce depression and anxiety. According to studies by the May Clinic, just 10 minutes of exercise can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Here are some easy ways to incorporate more exercise and physical activity into your day:

· Park further from the grocery store or at work – take every opportunity to walk further.

· Take the stair versus the elevator.

· Get up and move every 45-50 minutes if you sit at work.

· Download an exercise video and try something different like yoga, Zumba, or Pilates.

· Put on your favorite music and dance around the house

· Go to an indoor mall and walk

Make it a priority to exercise at least 5x a week for 30 minutes. It can be two 15 minute sessions or 10 minutes of vigorous exercise three times during the day. Just get yourself moving!

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