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  • Shawna Zegarra

How I said "So Long" to SAD

At the beginning of November, I noticed I was feeling extra blue. I was tired all the time, not sleeping well, and just feeling OFF.


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It didn't take long for someone to ask me if I've ever had SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).


I hadn't ever noticed that I was dealing with that, but that doesn't meant I haven't!


This time last year, we were still deep in mourning from a sudden family death. Any feelings of sadness or depression were easily attributed to this. 2020 was also a year that was less chaotic than 2021. (Remember when COVID was going to go away? Ah I miss such hope). And before that life was completely different. Full of outdoors time and socialization.


But this year, I had been staying inside a lot because of the MONSOONS that had been hitting Vancouver and the rest of British Columbia. Atmospheric Rivers made going outside low on my priority list.


So that's how I ended up with the perfect conditions for SAD to make an appearance

  • No outdoor time

  • Dark indoor lighting

  • Gloomy Weather

  • No Vitamin D intake

KABOOM! SAD!

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Fortunately, I'm surrounded by an amazing community that was full of suggestions.

Here are my top 5 tips for making SAD more bearable:


1. A Happy Lamp (AKA Light therapy lamp, or SAD lamp): These lamps are available just about anywhere you can buy Advil. They're made to give addition exposure to light in the darker months. Some have a spectrum of light options, some have UV, and some probably have a music option as well. I find it helps me just simulate daylight, and since I have it right beside my desk, it gives me the feeling of having an actual window! It's been really helpful.


2. Vitamin D Supplements: The sun gives us vitamin D. When I don't go outside, or it's raining all the time, I don't get any of that sweet, sweet vitamin D. So I added a supplement to my day and that has also helped to get me feeling like my old self.


3. Exercise: I learned it from Elle Woods and it's as simple as that.

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4. Ear noise: Pump your favourite songs, put on a funny or interesting Podcast, or get a good comedy Audiobook. Anything that makes you smile or even want to get up and DANCE. Just avoid sitting in silence!


5. Get outside: On days where there is no rain, I make myself go outside. A walk through the forest or even just around the block has made a HUGE difference. But I'm honest with myself as well. If it's raining, I won't be outside. That way I don't beat myself for not going outside on a rainy day. I don't care how good my raingear is, it's not happening.


Now these are just some things that worked for me. They might help you or they might not. The key is to be willing to be open and talk about it. Call your doctor as there could be some tests to run and medication that can help. And always, if you need to talk to someone:


BC Crisis Line: 1-800-784-2433

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566

USA National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255


You are never alone.


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