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Welcome back to the darkest timeline. How to stay sane this winter

Jessica Roy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Health & Fitness

While SAD is more prevalent in latitudes farther north, even people in Southern California who might catch a bit of midday sunshine in the dead of winter can develop it, Raftery Ryan said.

In fact, "we might even be in some respects more prone to it in some capacity because we're so used to the sunny weather," she said.

Although people say L.A. doesn't have seasons, that's not true, said Allison Simon, a yoga and meditation facilitator and fourth-generation Angeleno. They're subtle, but they exist, even if they aren't as in your face as winter in colder parts of the country.

"You can tell by the way the air feels, you can tell the way that the sky looks, how the sun points in the sky. We don't have as many markers as maybe the East Coast or other cities would have when it comes to snow and really intense weather, but you can still feel the difference," Simon said. "You can smell it in the air. You can feel it in the dew in the morning."

How to stay on top of your mental health this fall and winter

You don't need to see a doctor or receive a formal diagnosis to try these at-home strategies for maintaining good mental health this time of year.

 

Here's one that hits on a lot of blues-beating strategies: Commit to a lunchtime stroll a few times a week. You get the benefit of exercise plus a dose of natural sunlight. Raftery Ryan said to aim for about three hours of sunshine per week to alleviate SAD symptoms. (And yes, you still have to wear sunscreen: Studies show preventing skin cancer probably does not negate vitamin D absorption.)

Other strategies recommended by experts include:

-- Brighten up your living space. Go through your home and workspace and see if there are ways to let in more of the season's limited light. Can you move your desk or kitchen table closer to a sunnier spot? Can you move sunlight-blocking furniture out of the windows? What if you swapped out heavy curtains for sheer ones?

-- Exercise. Physical movement can be a boon to mental health. Don't worry about maxing out your heart rate or committing to intense sweat sessions. Gentle movement can be as beneficial to your brain as a more intense activity.

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