SAD – What a pertinent acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder – but is it real? Listen to this resounding YES! SAD is a type of depression related to season changes. Symptoms typically begin in the fall and continue into the winter. It saps your energy while making you quite moody at times.

SAD has been recognized as a depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern. Common symptoms include sadness, lost of interest in once-enjoyed activities, changes in appetite – craving carbohydrates, sleeping longer than usual but still feeling fatigued, loss of energy, slowed movements and speech, increase in restless activity, feeling guilty or worthless, difficulty making decisions, and in some cases: suicidal ideation or attempts.

We often make light of “talking about the weather”, but the truth is…weather is crucial to our lives. Think about it: it determines the details of our plans, who will join us, what clothes we need to wear, how prepared we will be in the event of a storm or emergency, and so much more! This is NOT a trivial matter. But does the weather also play a part in our mood, behavior, and overall well being? Most certainly.

There are many treatments for SAD including, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), positive life coaching, exercise, diet, medication, and light therapy.

Those of us residing in New Hampshire know how many sunny days we get here…even in the winter, and I know I rely on them to help keep me smiling. I definitely know that I feel better overall when the sun is out. While I don’t suffer from SAD, my mood is certainly affected by the weather. When I prepare myself to deal with these changes, I feel a sense of freedom. Weather is something totally out of our control, but how we deal with it, is not. The first step to remedying a problem is knowing what it is. Focusing on the solution is the answer. Anticipating and preparing makes all the difference.

So far, Autumn has given us a lot of rain, and it is not over yet. Simply using an umbrella makes life easier and less stressful. Keep it simple by thinking your day out in advance and allow it to flow with the least amount of stress possible. Pretty soon, we will need to be shoveling, scraping, sweeping, and bundling up. Are you going to be miserable or make it fun? Winter snow is beautiful – let that be in the forefront of your mind when it begins to become troublesome. Winter activities are joyful – get out there and do it! Plan, plan, plan ahead. Have an emergency kit in your car. Anticipate various scenarios and prepare accordingly. There is no need to dread the weather – what a waste of time and energy! There are four seasons folks…and there is no sign of that changing any time soon. How will you move into these colder months? Your decision. Let’s turn SAD into GLAD 🙂 This is real FREEDOM!

Rachel is the Interim Executive Director of the Free State Project. She has an MBA and is experienced in fundraising, marketing, and event production.