Feeling SAD? It could be the lack of daylight

Beat the winter blues

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - We are just finishing up our first full week of standard time, meaning darker nights and shorter days which can wreak havoc on your health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is the sadness you feel because of a lack of sunlight, affects about 20 million Americans. It's estimated that another 10-20% of us have a mild form of it and don't even know it.

If you are suddenly craving mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, cupcakes or other high-carb foods then you might have a little case of SAD going on. Those foods help the brain produce the happiness hormone dopamine.

Here are a few ways you can beat the darkness doldrums.

1. Head out doors for lunch even if it's just for 15 minutes to get some sunshine or daylight. This will help to boost your mood and help your body make vitamin D. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause mild depression.
2. Embrace a new indoor fitness challenge. Try heading indoors for yoga, or maybe join a basketball league or another sport you enjoy. This will get you moving and help your body release those endorphins that boost your mood.
3. Fix your sleep schedule -- really fix it. The good news you may find it a little easier to go to bed earlier because it gets darker out sooner. Take advantage of that to get the 7 to 8 hours of sleep you need. Even just one extra hour of sleep a night can reduce your risk of heart attacks.

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