“Happy New Year” wishes can ring false to those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “Winter Blues”. It’s a type of depression that impacts individuals during months of little sun. However, there are a number of dimensions of health and wellness, and lacking in any of them can lead to this seasonal depression.
That’s why we’ve created this round-up of apps, tools, and websites to help improve quality of your life — including a tool specifically for SAD sufferers at the end!
Do remember: If you feel you are suffering from SAD, it is important to seek the help of a trained medical professional.
What you eat can impact your health and happiness, so don’t neglect it.
Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal (Free) is a cross-platform app that will help you track the food you eat and the exercise you do, so you can measure your progress towards achieving your weight goal. We found it the best calorie counting app on the iPhone in 2012.
If you have a tablet or smartphone you can prop up, it can be really handy for cooking. You’ll find a variety of apps with healthy food recipes on Windows 8 , great for the Microsoft Surface users, for example. Just try not to touch the screen with messy cooking fingers (seal it in an ordinary zip-lock bag, and the touchscreen will still work)!
Of course, sometimes what you really need to get motivated to work towards healthy living is a community with whom you can share experiences, sympathy, and pep talks. Reddit.com can be an amazing resource for community and productivity, not just a place for memes, so check out one of these healthy-living subreddits and you’ll be sure to find people who share your challenges and would love to help.
Studies have long shown that exercise can improve mood and ease depression. According to Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University,
“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” – The Exercise Effect, American Psychological Association
You don’t need to go to the gym to get a good workout. There are good Android workout apps that can show you how to exercise your whole body in minutes a day. iPhone owners can try FitStar Fit , or find workout exercises, photos, and videos with apps like Skimble Workout Trainer (Free).
For automated exercise-goal-measurement, try a digital fitness tracker . You don’t have to buy the expensive Apple Watch to get a great one either — there are several iPhone-friendly wearables that can track fitness goals too.
For the Android users and those who prefer not to pair it up with a smartphone, there are other options, such as the Fitbit Flex to the Jawbone UP , to the Endomondo Sports Tracker , to the Basis B1 Health Tracker Sportwatch . If none of those is right for you, check out our round-up of other fitness gadgets to help you get in shape.
Poor quality sleep has been linked to depression and vice versa, so getting a good night’s sleep can be a tricky one. However, smartphones can help you carry apps to sleep better and wake more refreshed. Apps like Sleep As Android can calibrate your alarm clock to wake you during your lightest phase of sleep .
Apps and hardware have even been designed to help you achieve lucid dreaming , where you can consciously control your dreams.
Unfortunately, this kind of technology can’t help much if stress is causing your insomnia or depression problems.
It’s no secret that too much stress can make you angry or depressed, reduce your productivity, or even make you sick. I have no ground-breaking advice in this area to give, unfortunately. Find a stress-reliever that works for you, and don’t give up until you find one. Remember to breathe — there are even iPhone apps to help relieve stress .
Some other things you can do:
- Try yoga with the help of YouTube Channels.
- Listen to music to de-stress , available for free download.
- Simplify your life by being more minimalist .
Most of all, don’t give up. Seek help from a counselor, therapist, or trusted friend or relative if your stress problems (or other issues) are severe.
There is no shortage of online communities who help people through depression more generally. The /r/depression sub-reddit community has over 90,000 subscribers, and they have very supportive policies.
Get More Light
Studies show the therapeutic effects of light on people with SAD. Those of you who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder specifically, look into getting a wake-up light like this Philips GoLite. 15-30 minutes under the bright blue light gives you extra energy you’re missing from the sun, and can jump-start your morning.
What’s Your Take?
What are your favourite ways to reduce stress and improve happiness? Let us know in the comments, and have a happy and healthy new year!