Unique Ideas to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder
I don't have to tell you how it is. You already know if you're reading this. You're going along, enjoying the nice weather. Everything is dandy. Then, BAM! Seasonal Affective Blahs hit.
Depending on where you live, SAD season may have already begun. I know I find myself more tired and crabby here in northern Virginia lately.
If you're like me, when the winter blues arrive before winter, out comes the SAD light (AKA light box). Although using my light box helps, sometimes it's just not enough for me.
So I'm here to share some of the other, more unorthodox tactics I use to combat SAD.
Of Course, the Disclaimer. (Did You Expect Any Less?)
In this post, I just want to share what I do. I AM NOT SUGGESTING YOU DO THESE THINGS! In fact, some of the things I do in my efforts to fight off SAD fly in the face of conventional medical advice. I post this information here simply to share my story in the hopes that people find it an interesting spectacle.
What About Light Boxes?
Light boxes are great tools for coping with SAD symptoms. However, I won't talk much about them here because tons has already been written online about them. Instead, I'll focus on the other stuff I do in my efforts to beat SAD.
Step 1: I Ditched My UV-Blocking Contact Lenses.
Against the advice of my optometrist, who told me that the ultraviolet-light-blocking feature of my contact lenses was meant to protect my eyes, I switched to lenses with no UV "protection". Explaining why I believed doing this might help with SAD would require its own post. In short, I had a theory (with no scientific proof, mind you) that perhaps humans evolved to need small amounts of ultraviolet light.
On top of that, blue light is near UV light on the spectrum. Blue light is the portion of whole, "white" light that is effective against seasonal depression, according to many experts on the subject. While blue light is not the same thing as UV light, I was willing to try this experiment on myself.
After switching to clear, plain contact lenses, I felt much less depressed and tired. It took two or three days before I felt the maximum effect of the switch. I tried changing back to UV-blocking lenses, but it brought symptoms back within a few days.
Obviously, one person's experience is not enough to prove this works. And there is always the chance that the beneficial effects are all in my head. Regardless, I have no intention of going back to UV-blocking lenses.
Step 2: I Did the Unthinkable. I Went Tanning.
Against the advice of my dermatologist, I started tanning.
I use the term "tanning" lightly. I actually make my sessions so short that I get little to no change in skin color. Just a few minutes is all I need to get my vitamin D.
Trying a tanning bed was a difficult choice for me. All my life, I'd been warned of how dangerous it is, how it increases your risk of skin cancer. I do not doubt that those things are true.
What drove me to tanning wasn't SAD. It was Lyme disease and its co-infections. I ended up getting so nauseous after eating that I almost couldn't eat anything at all.
I'd had Lyme a few years by that point and noticed that in the summer, symptoms weren't as bad. I suspected a lack of vitamin D could be to blame. Evidently, taking vitamin D supplements just wasn't working out for me.
So tanning I went. If I tanned early in the day, I noticed a big improvement in my SAD symptoms.
I Went Green
Green light, that is. I installed one of our green LED bulbs in my desk lamp after reading about the blue-green portion of the light spectrum being most effective against SAD.
I Made Sure to Use My Near-Infrared Bulb
Near infrared light is part of the sun's natural spectrum, so I made sure to use my bulb every day.