Kimberly Hayes of Public Health Alert is a guest contributor covering the topic of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

When the winter blues really get you down, you could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder. The effects of S.A.D. take a toll on many workers during the gloomier months, but there are some methods for fighting those seasonal feelings of sadness and fogginess. If S.A.D. has you feeling less like yourself, here are some tips that can help you bounce back.

Recognize and Combat the Signs of S.A.D.

Sometimes, it can be complicated to differentiate between general feelings of depression and seasonal affective disorder. For employees, changes in mood that are strictly associated with changes in the seasons or weather can be clear signs that S.A.D. is impacting your mood, as well as your work ability. You may have trouble focusing on your tasks, meeting important deadlines, or even getting out of bed in the mornings.

If you do suspect that S.A.D. may be to blame, you may need to take more mental health maintenance steps as winter approaches, including steps to decrease inflammation in your brain. Inflammation can be strongly connected to mental health issues, including anxiety disorders and depression. A natural and effective remedy for this inflammation, as well as mood imbalances, is CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) provides a natural feeling of euphoria without the negative side effects of THC, and it can be a powerful solution for combating S.A.D., depression, and anxiety. Food can be another way to reduce brain inflammation, so consider making changes to your diet to support your mental health during the cooler months. Cut out problematic carbohydrates and fats from your diet, and choose healthier options instead.

Focus on Your Diet and Exercise Habits

You already know that a healthy diet can help improve your brain health and mood, so be sure to focus on swapping out complex carbohydrates, reducing processed foods,and including healthy fats in your daily meals and snacks. Be extra careful with those winter drinks as well since they can be loaded with sugar that can cause shifts in your mood. An eggnog latte from your favorite national coffee chain can include as much sugar as a half dozen glazed doughnuts! So, find healthier ways to indulge in those comforting holiday drinks. Another easy way to elevate your mood during the winter is to stick to an effective exercise routine. A daily sweat session helps your brain produce more endorphins, dopamine, and other essential chemicals for mood management. If you typically exercise outside, look into a gym membership that will help you stay active, even on rainy/snowy days. Ask your employer about any discounts or incentives your health plan may offer to help offset gym membership costs.

Practice Some Basic Self-Care Habits

Practicing self-care is crucial for career success, but it can also be an effective means for reducing impacts on your productivity. Give yourself a little extra T.L.C. to help improve your mood and fight those increased feelings of depression and anxiety. As mentioned above, exercise is crucial in mental health management, but you also need to get quality sleep to care for your emotional and mental well-being. Take some extra steps to enhance your sleep regimen, starting with a comfortable bedroom. Avoid the temptation to crank up the heat, as a cooler room can help you sleep and keep your home quiet at night too. Finally, if you need a quick mood booster, take a few minutes to relax with a light therapy box to give your body the light exposure it needs to create energy. You can shop online to find some popular options and read reviews to make sure you are getting the best lamp to fit your space and your needs.

Dealing with the effects of seasonal affective disorder can make you truly dread winter, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can use healthy habits to balance out your mood, improve your mental health, and make S.A.D. less of a factor in your winter health and wellness.