Don’t be S.A.D.

BY ALEXA CHERRY
For the UAS Whalesong
Starting around this year, if you haven’t already, you may start hearing people talk about “getting sad.” This sounds perfectly normal, especially for the interim between midterms and leading up to finals. But as we descend into the winter months, and especially here in Alaska, the word “sad” might not actually mean what you think it does. The person speaking could actually be referring to the acronym S.A.D., which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“What the heck is that?” you might ask. Well, S.A.D. is a mood disorder and type of depression that occurs during the same season every year regularly. It tends to begin and end around the same times, making its occurrence fairly easy to predict, if you know that you have it, or are prone to it. In Alaska and the northern hemisphere in general, people are especially susceptible to S.A.D. because of the cold weather and the lack of daylight. Symptoms include depression, a lack of energy and needing/wanting more sleep than usual, irritability, and a change in appetite. Sometimes, you can have or get S.A.D. and not even know it – so, if you’ve been sad and grumpy and extra-sleepy recently, that might be the reason why.
Fortunately, there are ways you can help deal with S.A.D. and reclaim your functionality as a human being, despite the dark and the cold and the other seasonally-related trends affecting your behavior. One of the first is to start taking vitamins, if you don’t already. It’s important that you take Vitamin D, since a lack of Vitamin D is an important factor in the creation of S.A.D. Supplement that with some Vitamin C, because A) it’s cold season and a little bit of the orange juice vitamin will help more than hurt, and because B) I have heard from fairly reliable sources that Vitamin D won’t work unless you take C to supplement it. You can get a bottle of a multivitamin that has both at the store, or you can just get a bottle of each – that’s what I did, to spice up my vitamin routine and also make sure that I’m getting as much of each vitamin as possible. In addition to helping fight off S.A.D., adding these vitamins to your daily routine and diet assist in boosting your immune system (Vitamin C) and healthy bones, as well as the good feeling that sunshine gives you (Vitamin D).
Another way for your body to get the Vitamin D and exposure to sunlight that it craves is to use fake sunlight! If you’ve spent any considerable amount of time in the northern hemisphere, you’ve probably heard about “S.A.D. lights;” also referred to as “happy lights,” these are LED lamps that you can sit in front of in order to simulate exposure to actual sunlight. Sure, it sounds a little crazy, but when you only get around 4 hours of daylight in a given 24-hour period, you do what you can. Depending on the size, I think your own S.A.D. light will run you around $60, but check with the UAS Housing Lodge and the Student Resource Center first – they have S.A.D. lights reserved that they’re willing to let you check out and sit with, so that you don’t have to drop that cash. (You can use it to buy those vitamins I was talking about earlier instead.)
In summary, don’t let general sluggishness and an overwhelming desire to sleep all your spare time away get to you! Read that book you’ve been looking forward to, play your favorite video game, watch a couple episodes of your favorite show. Look at pictures of Cabo Cabo and decorate your room with bright colors. Even though it sounds awful – worse, when all you want to do is sleep – try to exercise! It doesn’t have to mean getting down to the gym and pumping iron, either; just do some jumping jacks, play Just Dance, get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing to your brain. Because remember: exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! And happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.

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