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5 Ways to Fight Back Against Seasonal Affective Disorder

Don't let winter get in the way of feeling happy and energetic. You just need to work winter a little bit differently in order to feel great. Here's to your winter health and happiness!
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If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you're not alone.

In fact, it's estimated that over 10 million Americans struggle with this disorder each year. As the seasons shift, those affected by SAD start to feel depressed due to lack of sunlight.

It happens so quickly, doesn't it? From feeling the sunshine on our face and the beauty of all summer gives us, to shorter days, dreariness and cold weather.

If you suffer from SAD, or are just looking for a way to beat the winter blues and feel happier during the harsh winter weather, here are a few effective ways to up your happiness levels during the darkest months of the year.

1. Up your vitamin D intake.

Your body got used to an increase in vitamin D thanks to the sunny summer days. But now that the days are shorter and the sun isn't as strong, you're likely lacking in the vitamin D department.

To make up for this loss, try incorporating foods that are rich in vitamin D into your diet -- and think beyond things like milk and orange juice. Leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as fatty fish like salmon are very rich in vitamin D.

In addition to this, have your doctor or pharmacist recommend a good brand of vitamin D supplements to take.

2. Increase your exposure to sunlight.

Just because there are fewer hours of sunlight during your day doesn't mean that you can't take advantage of them! Regular exposure to natural sunlight can help lessen the effects of SAD during the fall and winter months. Sunlight exposure boosts your serotonin levels, and provides your body with vitamin D.

Take advantage of the morning sunlight even during the winter. Bundle up and take a walk before work, or sit on your front porch and soak in some sunlight. Just remember to always apply sunscreen! It's still possible to burn during the winter, so be sure to keep your skin protected.

3. Make time for the things that make you happy.

With the shorter days and colder weather, it's easy to forgo the things you used to enjoy doing just to get back to your heated home. One of the fastest ways to be unhappy is to not make time to do the things that make you happy. So think about what that means for you, and make it your mission to incorporate that into your daily routine.

Also, make the time to take care of yourself. A new hairstyle or pair of jeans can go a long way when it comes to making you feel happier. When you look good, you feel good. So don't just throw on that same old sweater every day because it's warm.

Now is also a great time to breathe some life into your surroundings. Maybe it's time for a new set of sheets, or some seasonal décor. Find little things you can update around the home to help lift your mood.

4. Get active.

One of the easiest ways to feel happier is to get out there and move your body. Working out ups your endorphin levels, which is absolutely crucial when fighting the effects of SAD. Even a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood each morning or night will help you feel happier. Not to mention, if you take your stroll during the daylight hours, you'll also be benefitting from a boost in vitamin D.

5. Explore alternative methods

In my line of work, I treat issues such as stress, anxiety and grief with flower essences -- a practice widely accepted in Europe, which is lesser known here in the states. Your body's energy gets out of whack all the time, by the common setbacks we face, from fights with our family, to stresses at work and even things like a shift in daylight hours. Flower essences, in my experience, can work to counteract that imbalance, through the use of personalized remedy blends to treat the specific challenges you're up against. The goal is to reverse negative feelings and beliefs and bring peace, happiness, confidence and calm to your life, and the right flower remedies will do this for you. To help fight against SAD, I'd recommend Bush Iris and Sunshine Wattle, flower essences that help to bring out positivity.

Don't let winter get in the way of feeling happy and energetic. You just need to work winter a little bit differently in order to feel great. Here's to your winter health and happiness!

If you or someone you know is suffering from grief, anxiety, or stress, visit StrongestMinds.com for a free consultation on how flower remedies can help.

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If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.