How to Help Clients with Seasonal Affective Disorder

By |February 28th, 2017|Special Populations|


For many people, the shortened days, changing landscape, and dreary weather make things unbearable, leading to depression, social withdrawal, changes in appetite and sleep, and even substance abuse. Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes called S.A.D., affects millions of Americans each year in some measure.

Many may find themselves lacking energy, with a strong desire to get into bed as soon as they get home and shut out the world around them. Still others find themselves suffering from depression when warmer seasons roll around and experience weight loss and feelings of agitation.

For anyone affected by S.A.D., it’s important to know the best ways to cope with the symptoms and find ways to circumvent them or prevent them altogether–and if you’re working with a client who is affected by S.A.D., you should be prepared to help him or her get healthy despite their condition. Fortunately, there are tips on how to do just that, and they don’t require much effort or too much change from your original wellness plan.

Here’s how you can both beat this disorder when the seasons start to turn.

Make your environment colorful

Color plays a big role in the way we feel; blue, for instance, is typically viewed as a calming color and is often used in doctor’s offices to help patients relax. Bright, bold colors are a great mood booster, so pick your favorites and make sure they’re visible wherever you decide to work out. Choose hues that make you happy–your client will likely find them comforting, too–and incorporate them into your fitness space and even your workout clothing (and encourage your client to do the same).

outdoors

Consider artificial light

Consider investing in a light box–or another product that issues UV light–to help your clients with S.A.D. on days when the sun seems to have disappeared or the weather won’t allow for an outdoor workout. Many sufferers have found these items to be useful in helping them overcome the worst of their S.A.D. symptoms.

fitness

Get outside

While it’s still unknown exactly what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder, many doctors believe that a reduced amount of sunlight may disrupt the body clock, which can have negative effects on the sleep cycle and the way we eat.

On sunny days, move your workout session outdoors and reap the benefits of natural light. You two can even warm up or cool down by going outside for a long walk while the sun is still high in the sky and soak up that vitamin D.

Make workouts social

Many sufferers cope with strong feelings of depression that make socializing unbearable. The very fact that you and your client are working together is a good way to help him or her stay social, and you can help them even further by keeping upbeat conversations throughout your workout.

You could also consider offering group sessions to clients who seem particularly affected by their S.A.D. If your client builds a relationship with you as well as other clients who have similar goals to theirs, their self-esteem can improve.

If you’ve got more thoughts on this topic, come and chat with us!

About the Author

Laura Baker is part of a wonderful team at LearnFit, contributing great tips on DIY, healthy living and more. She loves to work on everything from small crafts to DIY home renovations. She considers herself an expert on keeping DIY projects simple and inexpensive.

About the Author:

If you are interested in contributing to the NFPT blog, please send an email to Beverly Hosford - bhosford[at]nfpt.com