8 Ways To Prepare For Seasonal Affective Disorder Now That The Days Are Getting Shorter

It's only a matter of time before we're all diagnosed with a severe case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Summer is over, back-to-school sales have come and gone, and the darkness has begun creeping in earlier and earlier each day. Even though Seasonal Affective Disorder is a tough emotional state to shake, there are ways to prepare for SAD now so that it's not so debilitating. Practice and preparation are the keys to success in anything life throws your way, and this disorder is no exception.

There are endless reasons to love autumn — hello, cozy sweaters and sweetened seasonal drinks — but with fall comes winter following close behind, and once winter hits, SAD can become an intense force to fight. You're no longer spending as much time outside, which means there are fewer and fewer people out and about, and the feeling of isolation is a given. Also, even though we're humans and not bears, we do hibernate in our own way, which leaves us feeling lonely, lethargic, and depressed. We may enjoy the freedom to stay snuggled up underneath a blanket, but doing anything for an extended period of time can get old. Here's how you can prep for the doom of SAD, and make it much easier to handle.

1. Try to become a morning person

The days are getting shorter, sure, but you can combat the early darkness by pairing your daily schedule with the sunrise. I'm not saying you need to get up at the crack of dawn, but an hour earlier will make you feel sleepier and ready to go to bed an hour earlier, giving your day a lot less dark, and a lot more light.

2. Develop a nighttime hobby

It's hard to ignore the sinking and restless feeling this disorder creates once you get home from work. So, make a distraction for yourself that will be fun and improve a skill. Learn how to bake, or start sewing a scarf — doing something with your hands that will force you to focus on the item right in front of you can prevent you from gazing sadly out the window into nothing.

3. Force a good cry if you need to

Crying is always therapeutic, and a good way to release any anxiety you've been feeling, but you might not be faced with easy cry triggers as often as you need. Unleash those tears with a movie, show, or book that you know will turn on the water works. For me it's watching Liv Tyler say goodbye to Bruce Willis in Armageddon, or listening to "Fix You" by Coldplay — guaranteed feels, right there.

4. Exercise

It'll be harder to get your sweat on outside, so find a way to take that movement indoors. There are about a billion new apps and ways to stream exercise programs on your phone, TV, or tablet (Gaiam TV is my fave). Or, hit the gym for some treadmill time, or for a group class.

5. Redecorate your hibernation den

This project is a surefire way to a.) keep you busy, b.) declutter your surroundings, and c.) give you a fresh start in the same space. Those are three things you desperately need to combat this disorder. So start planning, and get to pinning.

6. Set up a solid sleep schedule

Lean into the urge to sleep. You're most likely sleep deprived (aren't we all?), and it'll keep you physically healthy during a time you might not feel your best. Hit those right hours, and catch all those z's.

7. Snuggle, A LOT

Basking in the warmth of another has been scientifically proven to make you a happier human. And since summertime is a tough season to snuggle (ugh, all that sweat and humidity), make up for lost time by cuddling with your partner, spouse, or furry pet.

8. Create a cold weather bucket list

Why should summer be the only season appropriate for making a bucket list? You can still accomplish a lot of amazing things when the temperatures drop. So set some goals, and start tackling them one at a time. By the time winter hits and SAD is at its strongest, you'll be the jolliest person on Earth.

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