In the United States, one in five adults succumbs to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the long winters. With at least two to three more months of miserable weather and limited sunshine, it’s time to winterize. But don’t just get your car heaters checked or your windows replaced; winterize your brain, too! Spending more time inside doesn’t have to be boring. Here are six tips—and the best MOOCs to go with them—for helping you combat seasonal affective disorder.
1. Get more sunshine. No one knows exactly why SAD happens, but one of the biggest potential culprits is the long hours of winter darkness. Challenge this by getting a few house plants or cultivating an indoor garden. Take a Botany MOOC so you know how to meet your plants’ needs. Plants need light too, so spend some time with them; foster a green thumb and get some vitamin D.
2. Learn to meditate. One of the signs of SAD is anxiety, and you may find yourself becoming nervous over things you wouldn’t normally be nervous about, or even becoming nervous for no apparent reason. A good way to ground yourself is through meditation. Meditation isn’t as easy as just sitting and “clearing your mind.” Get the guidance you need to do it right with Learn to Meditate, a guided online course.
3. Get to know your brain. The brain is the control center of your behavior and consequently, your feelings as well. Have you ever wondered what makes it tick? Basic Behavioral Neurology is the key to figuring it out, and understanding the process in which your brain works may help you delineate some of the feelings you’re stuck with until the snow melts.
4. Engage in physical activity. Yoga is a great way to incorporate more physical activity during the winter. It doesn’t require a lot of space so you can do it virtually anywhere (like inside, where it’s warm!) and there’s no need for expensive equipment. With this three-part Authentic Yoga Experience series, you can start from the beginning or pick up where you left off.
5. Exercise your brain, too. You might not think that Buddhism and modern psychology have a lot in common, but drawing comparisons between the two will certainly give your brain a good workout. You’ll get the basics from the above meditation techniques—boost that by finding out if psychology and neuroscience support Buddhist practices, and why or why not in Buddhism and Modern Psychology.
6. De-stress and relax. Stress and anxiety are some of the key components of SAD. While you may not be able to change the seasons, you can change how you cope. Get the latest on how to train your brain to manage stress and anxiety with the 21-day program, Coping with Stress and Anxiety, led by a clinical psychologist. You can’t control the weather, but you can learn how to control your reactions.
[Take free online courses from Kaplan University.]
Even if you find yourself completely unaffected by seasonal affective disorder, the winter is still a great opportunity to challenge yourself in new ways. While these MOOCs help combat the symptoms of SAD, they also provide perfect opportunities despite the winter weather outside.
Is there any topic you can think of that would be great to learn during the winter?