Today’s topic is rather serious as it involves a mood disorder commonly referred to as SAD, but we hope to provide valuable information about what to watch for in yourself and others and ways to relieve the symptoms before or after they occur.
While we will try to cover the best general practices for dealing with SAD with an electric bike and through other means, but it is very important to note that this does not constitute medical advice and should not be considered professional help. If you have feelings of depression, worthlessness, or suicide, help is available by calling “988” in the United States, which is the Suicide and Crisis hotline, or by calling “0800 181 0771” in Germany. In Canada, dial “1-833-456-4566” or text “45645”.
What is SAD?
SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder and impacts people’s mental health during specific seasons. Depression is mostly associated with SAD and often occurs during the winter months in the northern hemisphere. It is mostly thought to be caused by the limited hours of daylight, the lack of sunlight, and a lack of exposure to the outdoors due to colder temperatures.
SAD seems to impact women to a greater degree than men, but both genders and all ages are susceptible to it to varying degrees. Related symptoms besides depression include gaining weight, oversleeping or a desire to sleep more, general lethargy, high levels of anxiety, and finally, irritability. All these symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can occur in other seasons such as autumn but typically cluster in winter months, especially for folks living in northern states or providences of the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Symptoms can range from very severe to mild in nature and may be and flow with the season and weather.
Perhaps you’ve felt down or low during the cold and dark winter months but could never put your finger on it. Well, now you know that it is a real major depressive disorder. The good news is that relief from SAD can be found across a variety of activities and habits. We like e-bike-related activities as our first choice to combat this disorder, but we will cover other choices that alleviate the symptoms of SAD as well.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Starting with a very basic remedy for seasonal affective disorder, we are going to discuss diet. Not the fads or restrictive diets you see on TV or from influencers, either. Good, basic principles for eating well, like humans naturally crave. A balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains helps you avoid cravings which can lead to substance abuse if you are affected by SAD. Carbohydrates are particularly attractive to our brains during this season as they provide a boost of energy through sugars.
One simple fix is to not purchase sweets or junk food while at the store. If unhealthy foods aren’t in your home or apartment, it makes it less likely that you will overindulge in them. Similarly, if you do like to keep sweet or salty snacks lying around, put them out of sight. You don’t want to open your cupboard only to see junk food on the shelf at eye level. Place sweets high or low and preferably behind other items. Over time, you may find you forget about them and don’t even miss them.
Exercise with an E-bike
Moving on to the best relief from SAD is outdoor exercise. Exercising outdoors has huge implications for your experience with SAD. That’s because low levels of Vitamin D contribute to your risk of getting this disorder. Vitamin D, unlike many other nutrients, can be created by your body and is achieved from exposure to sunlight. Even cloudy days result in UV rays getting through to your skin which is the important factor here. Spending time outdoors will improve your mood. But it can be difficult to exercise in the colder and darker months of winter.
This is why e-bikes are the perfect solution. Not only are they a ton of fun to ride, but many ebikes also can be tuned to give you just the right amount of exercise you are looking for via pedal-assist. With a bike like the Honbike U4 belt-drive commuter e-bike, you can choose from up to 4 riding modes: Bicycle, Eco, City, and Sport. Bicycle mode is purely manual pedaling with no support for when you want to boost your workout. Eco mode provides assistance but maintains the battery for maximum efficiency. City mode helps when commuting or riding through town. And Sport mode prioritizes speed and power but decreases battery range.
Some people may not have time to fit in exercise on top of work and running errands. The good thing about e-bikes is they allow you to easily commute to work via bike lane, bike path, or street. This way, you can get some light exercise before and after work, as well as exposure to the sun while you ride. In heavy snow or rain, you will still want to take a car or public transportation, but the e-bike is so lightweight and compact that you will have no trouble at all storing it while you aren’t riding.
Of course, exercising outdoors poses certain risks as the days get shorter, and the darkness sets in sooner in November after Daylight Savings Time. Follow these e-bike safety tips for riding at night should the need arise.
Take Your E-bike on Vacation or Out with Friends
Another surefire way to increase your exposure to the sun this winter season is to plan a vacation to a warm climate or sunny state. A folding electric bike is perfect to fit inside the car on a road trip to a beach town for a cruise along the boardwalk or ocean sidewalk.
Plan the vacation well in advance. We know from studies that the longer out a vacation is planned, the more dopamine is released when the mind thinks about the upcoming trip. The longer you have to think about the trip, the more total joy it will ultimately bring you. This can also alleviate some of the stress of depression that comes from SAD.
Find new friends through a cycling group or reconnect with old friends who may want to ride with you. Strike up conversations with those around you. If you are commuting with your e-bike, it is a natural conversation starter. By rekindling old activities and relationships that you cherish, you’ll be more likely to fight off the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting you feel depressed. Beating SAD requires a combination of good diet habits, regular exercise, and social interactions. By using a lightweight city e-bike, you can achieve these goals more easily. If you start feeling down this winter, remember these basic tips and put them into action.