Warding off the Winter Blues (SAD)
Many can attest that weather patterns affect our mood; when rainy and gloomy, we often feel more subdued and introverted; when a light dust of snow begins we often feel romantic; when bright and sunny, we experience an energized sensation.
During the colder months, some of us experience a bout of depression that correlates with the winter season.
Deborah Pierce, MD, MPH, says “ It’s important to treat SAD, because all forms of depression limit people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest, to enjoy their families, and to function well at work.”
WHAT IS SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder):
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects over 10 million Americans. This type of depression often begins the same time each year (often late fall).
SAD is primarily provoked by lack of sunlight, of which can contribute to hormonal disruptions. Sunshine is essential for the release of our 'happy chemicals', serotonin and dopamine.
Ask yourself: what would happen to a plant if you kept in in your food cupboards away from all sunlight? Same concept holds true to for humans.
However, a quick trip to your Minute Clinic will not suffice.
Here are some of my favorite natural remedies
to get you operating in high gear.
1. HAPPY LAMP!
It has been recorded that 60-80% of individuals that suffer from SAD see relief when using a happy lamp for at least 15 minutes per day within 2 weeks.
TIP: Get a lightbox with at least 10,000 Lux.
"Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy... happy people just don't shoot their husbands!”
Rule of thumb: break a sweat at least once a day. Ayurveda will tell you to elevate your heart rate for 30 min each day. This study supports that 30 min of walking each day (for 10 consecutive days) is enough to lessen the symptoms of SAD)
2. SUPPLEMENT w/ VITAMIN D + RHODIOLA
If you live in an area with greater frequency of overcast days, supplementation will be your friend. Naturally, if we are not able to acquire Vitamin D from the sun, we can introduce supplements.
I use this herb daily to strengthen mental cognition and help regulate/boost energy levels.
Strengthens the immune system
I talk a lot about the power of aromatherapy with clients, at workshops, and in yoga classes. This is because aromatherapy is extremely effective for physical, mental, and spiritual rehabilitation and growth.
Our sense of smell is one of our most primal senses. Additionally, It is the only sense that bypasses the blood-brain barrier; therefore, aromatherapy has a direct relationship with our cognitive abilities and the nervous system. Further, our sense of smell is directly affiliated with our limbic system, which also coordinates and houses our memories.
This is why aromatherapy is often used to rehab patients in hospitals. Humans often relate memories and associations with specific smells!
Try mood-lifting essential oils to ward off SAD. Essential Oil diffusion is a great way to reap the benefits of essential oils. See below for a list of my favorite mood-altering EO's and what sensation/emotion I associate:
Your diet is forever essential and will either draw you towards optimal health or pull you away from it.
During these months commonly affected by SAD, focus on your diet.
Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids:
Fish (i.e. salmon & mackeral)
Additionally, you can increase Serotonin levels by eating foods high in tryptophan (the chemical in which serotonin is made)
Pumpkin seeds (1 cup = 265% RDI)
Soybeans (1 cup = 191% RDI)
Lamb, beef, & pork (3oz = ~126% RDI)
Chicken & turkey (3oz = ~126% RDI)
Uncooked oat bran ( 1 cup = 113% RDI)
Beans & Lentils ( 1 cup = ~74%RDI)
Eggs (2 eggs = 60% RDI)
Pick one of these practices above, & see how it works for you! I certainly focus on my diet with primary intention; however, I am a strong proponent of the 80/20 rule.
Leave a comment below & let me know your thoughts!
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to email me, or visit my consultation pages for one-on-one consultation packages.
*This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before administering use, especially if pregnant, nursing, on medication. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not to be used for diagnoses, treatment, or prevention of disease.