Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a very real, very common disorder that affects more than 3 million people each year. The symptoms of SAD can range from mild anxiety to severe depression. I myself experience a faint sadness from the moment the leaves begin to change from green to varying hues of orange, red, and brown, and I remain feeling slightly down until spring reawakens in late April.
As a result of this feeling, my inclination as the temperature drops and summer fades into winter leans toward staying indoors, nestled in warmth and protected from the changing elements. I have learned to fight this urge to hibernate and to keep my body moving, regardless of the cold and ever-darkening days. Why? Because I need those endorphins and dopamine that exercise provides throughout the cold months.
Exercise has been shown time and again to be hugely effective in alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety and is being prescribed more and more frequently by psychiatrists before turning to pharmacological resources.
So, what are some strategies to keep your fitness routine up through the fall and winter months when you'd rather just be inside, seeking comfort in heavy foods and Netflix? The following three tips have worked wonders for me: