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Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted by Gabriel Williams on

While the holiday season is packed with cheer and sentimental feelings, the accompanying weather tends to resonate quite the opposite. By now, if you live in a seasonal region, you've likely experienced some degree of the medical phenomenon known as seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.

If your child with ASD struggles with irritability, aggression, or sleep disruption, it can be common for these issues to become more pronounced during months of the year with less daylight. The overall decrease in natural light throughout the day results in less serotonin being produced in the brain. This chemical is responsible for regulating mood and combating depression. Lower levels of serotonin will often lead to bouts of depression in mood instability.

The decrease in light is also responsible for more melatonin, the chemical that sends signals to the brain that it is time to sleep. This can result in a lower level of energy and can throw off a routine sleep schedule.

The severity of SAD can range from mild to severe and can cause mild disruptions to very noticeable declines in behavior. No matter how much you find yourself or your child is affected by SAD, there are a few tips you can try to help ease the deficits of less daylight.

One of the most common and effective tools is light therapy. Many stores sell lights that give off blue light designed to mimic the effects of natural daytime light. This can be useful especially in the mornings where it is still dark out upon waking up. Letting in as much natural light as possible in your home, or simply taking a step outside to maximize your exposure to light can help as well. This will help with overall energy and mood and will help to regulate sleeping patterns.

Engaging in physical activities is always beneficial for improving mood, and it can play an especially important role during the winter months. If you or your child are struggling with SAD, try playing more active games with your child, taking an additional trip to aquatic center each week, or finding other excuses to be active more often.

One of the biggest tempters during the winter months, which is only made more difficult with holiday foods, is the urge to indulge in comfort foods. This urge only ends up being counterproductive as unhealthy foods, especially foods high in carbs or sugars, will lower mood and energy in the long run. Instead, try increasing daily intakes of fruits and vegetables high in vitamins and minerals.

The slight changes in routine may be hard for your child if they are used to regularly scheduled activities and meals. Do your best to prepare your child by explaining in advance how the routines may change during the winter months. It may take some trial and error, but sooner or later you will discover what plan will help you and your child during the winter months the best.

The slight changes in routine may be hard for your child if they are used to regularly scheduled activities and meals. Do your best to prepare your child by explaining in advance how the routines may change during the winter months. It may take some trial and error, but sooner or later you will discover what plan will help you and your child during the winter months the best.

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