Tips for Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) – Part Three

Do you have problems with sleeping too much, eating too much, and losing interest in your favourite activities during the winter? You may be suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). For the last two weeks, I have been posting tips I have found to be useful in helping to beat this disorder. If you didn’t read Part One and Part Two, be sure to read them now. Today’s post is my final one in this series, and I am sharing my last three tips with you.

tips for beating seasonal affective disorder

Grow things

When the outdoors is a blustery, white world, creating a green, garden-like setting indoors can be extremely soothing. This is why growing indoor plants can help alleviate the symptoms of S.A.D. Whether you choose to grow herbs, flowers, or “house plants,” all plants help to produce oxygen which is vital during a season when the windows and doors are closed and the heat is turned up. Tending plants also provides a type of therapy.

indoor plants beneficial to health
Growing indoor plants like ferns can be beneficial to your health

Pets are also another great way to beat S.A.D. They provide great company (I admit I used to talk to my dog all the time!). Knowing you have a pet to care for gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. A dog gives you a reason to get outside and get active as does chickens, horses, or other outside animals. Nurturing a living thing can be comforting and calming.

Stay connected

In a season when we are tempted to stay home instead of venturing out in the cold, we might begin to lose connection with friends and family. Communication and social involvement with others needs to be a priority during the winter for those who struggle with S.A.D. Sharing your feelings, laughing, and even crying with someone else, is a vital part of maintaining good mental health. “No man is an island” is most certainly true during the winter.

Be creative

Hobbies such as knitting, wood-carving, painting, quilting, and welding, provide wonderful creative outlets. Making something beautiful and/or useful from simple supplies, gives the feeling of accomplishment. It also creates a connection between the mind and hands. Keeping your hands busy can help keep your mind busy in a positive, useful direction. Creating things also allows for an outlet of our emotions. Something as simple as drawing a picture of how you feel can be a great form of therapy.

painting can bring comfort
Creative hobbies such as painting can bring comfort

I have found these tips to be extremely helpful in my own life, and I hope you have found them inspiring in your own struggle with S.A.D. As always, I want to encourage you to consult a doctor if your symptoms are debilitating or you have frequent thoughts of death or suicide.



Tips for Beating Seasonsal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) – Part Two

Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)? Last week, I started a series on five tips to beat S.A.D. In that post, I talked about getting outside its benefits. If you haven’t read it yet be sure to check it out. Tips for  Beating S.A.D. – Part One

In Part Two, I am sharing my second tip for beating S.A.D.

tips for beating seasonal affective disorder

So here is my second point:

Get Your Nutrients

As with our physical health, eating nutrient rich food can be a great benefit to our mental health. Studies have proven that a deficiency of certain vitamins can give symptoms of depression. First let me clarify that I am not a health professional. You should always talk to your doctor before taking an new vitamins. I am sharing information that I have found, actually tried, and found helpful. Here are the vitamins that I take on a daily basis:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very different from other vitamins in the sense that it naturally doesn’t come from outside sources. This is the only vitamin that is actually produced by our body (similar to a hormone). However, our body typically produces this vitamin when it comes in contact with UVB rays from the sun. This can be very difficult to achieve during the winter. Symptoms of deficiency of vitamin D include tiredness and depression. This article from Psychology Today provides interesting facts about the link between vitamin D and depression: 

If you are unable to get sunlight you may benefit from light therapy which I discussed in Part One of this series last week. Some milk products are also fortified with vitamin D. Many people, including myself, find it beneficial to also take a supplement.

Vitamin B-12

Tiredness and lethargy are some of the most common symptoms of a vitamin B-12 deficiency. If you suffer from S.A.D., the symptoms may be even more prevalent since many S.A.D. sufferers already feel lethargic.  The lack of vitamin B-12 has also been associated with low cognitive function and the ability to carry out simple tasks.

Food sources of this vitamin include animal based food such as cottage cheese, ground beef, and eggs. Here is a link to an excellent chart found on the Dietitians of Canada website:

A supplement can also be taken if your preference of food sources still do not provide a high enough dosage. I personally have taken a supplement for a couple of years.

I hope I have inspired you with this information I have presented. I trust that you will do your own research and take the necessary steps to getting the nutrients that will help you beat S.A.D.

Be sure to watch for Part Three next Saturday.





Tips for Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) – Part One

Do you feel hopeless, lethargic, and agitated? Are you eating and sleeping a lot more than usual? All of these are symptoms of depression, but if you only have these symptoms during the winter or these symptoms intensify during the winter, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). The Mayo Clinic defines it this way:

“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”

While I have never been formally diagnosed with this, I have sought advice and assistance in this area from my family doctor. If you are struggling with symptoms of depression, I encourage you to seek professional help. You may need medication and specialized therapy. This article is not intended to replace that, but simply to share tips on how I have learned to cope.

Tips for Beating for Seasonal Affective Disorder

This is Part One of a series of articles on my top five tips to beating S.A.D. So here is my first tip:

Get Outside

When it is cold and snowy outdoors it can be tempting to stay inside where it is warm and cozy. Getting dressed in the required outerwear can seem like a chore, and much of that outerwear can feel cumbersome and restricting. However, getting outside is a crucial part of dealing with S.A.D. Here are three reasons why:

You get active

Let’s be honest, you are not likely to go outside in the cold to just sit and relax! Staying warm requires some kind of movement, and movement is an important part of good health. It has many benefits from combating diseases to increasing energy levels. This is a great opportunity to try some winter sports activities. The list of winter sports is endless, but here are just a few I have found enjoyable: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and hiking. Even something as simple as taking a scenic walk or building a snowman can be enjoyable and provide exercise at the same time.

Outdoor activities such as snowshoeing help to beat S.A.D.

You get fresh air

Step outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. What do you feel? Doing this always seems to clear my mind. Perhaps because it increases my oxygen levels which is an important part of maintaining overall good health and especially important for the brain. Oxygen is vital to the brain. According to National Association for Child Development, “Brain cells are very sensitive to decreases in oxygen levels and don’t survive or function well very long without it.” Our oxygen levels are so important, they are considered vital signs by the medical field. No wonder we feel sluggish during the winter when we are all inside with the windows closed and the heat turned up!

You get sunlight

One of the main causes of S.A.D. is a shortage of vitamin D which humans produce when exposed to sunlight. For those of us who live in the north, the nights can seem never ending and the time frame for getting sunlight is much shorter. It can be dark when we leave home in the morning and dark when we return. It might take a little planning, but setting aside a half hour each day to be exposed to sunlight is an important step in fighting S.A.D. If it is almost impossible to find this time or on stormy days when the sun is not shining, light therapy can be used instead. I purchased a light box several years ago and have found it to be extremely helpful. More information visit the Mayo Clinic website here:

light therapy box
My Light Therapy Box

One of my favourite reasons for going outside in the winter is the happy feeling I have when returning indoors. If I am feeling restless and “housebound,” I go outside even for a short walk. After feeling the bitter cold on my face, I can’t wait to get back indoors! Back inside, I am ready to get cozy and settle in. This is true even in the dark when I can often be found pacing back and forth on my balcony!

Now, put down your phone or close out your browser, put on some warm clothing, and head outside. Be sure to share your tips in the comments and look for part two next Saturday.




The Poppy – A Symbol of Hope

It is Remembrance Day here in Canada, and across the country crowds are gathering at cenotaphs to remember our fallen soldiers. On each person’s coat lapel is pinned a red poppy. A symbol of remembrance. In today’s post, I would like to drew attention to something else that the poppy represents – hope.

Many years ago while still living with our parents, my sister purchased a package of biennial poppy seeds and planted them in her own flower garden. In the following years, the wind carried those poppy seeds across the yard, and poppies began to grow everywhere. We let them grow where they liked. How could we destroy such beautiful flowers? We even allowed them to take over the entire end of our vegetable garden. Every year, we had our own field of poppies. As the years have passed, my sister’s bed has been removed as has the vegetable garden. The gardens were re-landscaped, and a gravel pathway was laid down. That doesn’t matter to the poppies; they still come up every year forcing their way through the gravel. We let them bloom and then rip them out to be thrown away, but they leave their seeds behind for the next year. It is almost impossible to eradicate them.

Death and Resurrection

For hundreds of years, the poppy has been seen as a symbol of death and resurrection. The field poppy grows where nothing else will grow. The seeds will lay dormant in the ground until spring when the soil is disturbed and then the poppy springs to life. That is why in the battle fields of Europe the poppy was often the only thing that grew. On the brown, lifeless, muddy battle ground, the seed lay dormant until the soldiers churned up the soil in battle. This was also true for the soldiers’ burial grounds in Belgium called Flanders Fields. Too often the ground was dug up for graves, and too often the troops rallied around those graves for solemn tribute to their fallen comrades. But on the field of death, sprang life – the vibrant life of a red poppy.

In May of 1915, Canadian doctor Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae presided over the funeral of his friend and comrade at Flanders Fields in the cover of darkness (for security reasons). The following day, while looking across the field to the grave of his friend, McCrae penned the words to the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The poem starts out sombre but soon turns to a rousing plea to those who remain. It even states that the fallen soldiers do not really sleep. Its lyrics lead from grief into hope.

From Trash to Fame

Even the story of the poem itself is one of hope. After showing the poem to a fellow soldier, McCrae threw it in the garbage. Later, his friend retrieved it and encouraged McCrae to submit it to a magazine. It was send to The Spectator, but it was rejected. Later, it was submitted to Punch who published it on December 8, 1915. The poem went from the garbage to being one of the most famous poems of recent history.

Beauty from Ashes

While the poppy is certainly a symbol of remembrance (I wear one every year for this purpose), it is also a symbol of hope. God will allow good and beautiful things to come from sad and difficult times in our lives. Isaiah 61:3 says, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes…” Even from disaster something beautiful can grow.

One of my favourite songs from the classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie is “Up from the Ashes Grow the Roses of Success.” The first verse says:

Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you’ll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!
Oh yes!
Grow the roses!
Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!

Perhaps we could substitute the words to say “up from the battle grounds grow the poppies of hope.”

The next time you are facing a “battle” in your life, remember the poppy.