Do you feel the pull of wintertime blues as the days are becoming shorter? This is a time of year where many can be affected by mood changes due to the changing of the seasons and lack of sunlight; some people suffer from a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The tell tail symptoms of SAD include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal. These are symptoms that typically show up at the same time each year and can begin in the fall and last through winter. SO, even if you have these symptoms to a small degree, yet you don’t have SAD, the ways in which you can ease and improve the symptoms are the same.
Here is a 5-pronged approach to address SAD or your depression during fall / winter months. Taking a comprehensive approach is more effective than only addressing this with one solution.
This time of year brings lots of holiday celebration. You may be tempted to fill up on sugary items, candy, cookies, pastries, breads, chips and essentially non-nutrient value processed carbohydrate, which may have an initial affect of euphoria, but truth be told the resulting crash will actually make you feel worse than prior to eating these type of carbohydrates.
Filling your diet with real unprocessed foods will be an important part of reducing symptoms of sad. Real veggies, fruit, protein and healthy fats are where improvement will begin. Healthy fats are especially important for the brain and for neurotransmitters. Fats such as Avocados, Olives, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter are all very good options for feeding your brain.
You may need to boost your nutrients as our soils are depleted and even if your eating a healthy diet, your body may need some extra support. A good B-complex will be helpful with so many processes in the body and will also help with mood and energy. While we have less exposure to sunlight at this time of year, and because it is a main source of vitamin D, chances are that you’ll need a boost here too, but it is a good idea to have your vitamin D levels tested before adding additional vitamin D. Mushrooms and eggs are also good sources of vitamin D. Visit the Vitamin D Council for more information on testing and ideal levels of vitamin D: Click Here
Choose a type of exercise that feels right for you. It could be talking walks, yoga, Pilates, running, hiking, whatever feels enjoyable and you can commit to doing on a regular basis, the point is movement is important and will also help improve symptoms. If there is something you can choose to do outside, even better because you’ll also get that exposure to the sun even if it is a cloudy day.
Light Therapy –
This is an important one and acts like a supplement. Sunlight is a precursor to melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates sleep / wake cycles. Light therapy is a good way to assist with the lack of sunlight during the winter months. Its as easy as getting a light box that will run you about $30 or replacing a light bulb in a lamp. Here’s an option called a “Blues Buster” is simply a bulb that you can put in a lamp: Click Here
Talk Therapy –
Talk therapy in my opinion is important for everyone, not just those that are depressed. With all the stressors we are dealing with in today’s day and age, talk therapy is an essential. Its part of regular self-care, just like a visit to the doctor, getting a regular massage, brushing your teeth and taking a shower. Talk therapy fits into the category of self-care and it’s about time we get over the stigma associated with talk therapy. This is an essential and there is nothing wrong with talking to an objective party who will support you in your personal growth and who will also support you during tough times, whether that is depression from seasonal changes or any other stressful situation you are dealing with, a therapist is your partner in helping you work through your difficult and stressful times in life.
Here’s to a healthy and happy winter!