Winter. A time when the whole world seems to don their Uggs whilst they sip away on their warm mocha frappe latte chinos. Seriously though, this time of year can be extremely challenging for folks affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Shorter days, lack of sunlight and changes in the weather seem to cause many to fall into a state of depression during these winter months. If you're finding yourself falling into that category, you're not alone and there are some things you can do to help bring yourself out of the muck. (Remember, it is ok to seek professional help if your depression worsens, it's not being weak-it's doing the right thing to be strong)
1. Light therapy - Let the sunlight in or get in the sun. Natural sunlight may help to reset your circadian rhythm, one possible source of SAD. The sunlight can help to suppress your body's release of melatonin. This can be especially helpful first thing in the morning. One interesting idea is to look into a sunrise clock. These clocks will begin increasing light over the course of about 40 minutes prior to your alarm going off in the morning. Not only is this a smoother transition to waking, it also mimics summers natural light timing.
2. Aromatherapy - Certain scents have been used for centuries to combat various ailments. Among these Lavender to relax and calm the body and peppermint to arouse the body. Try a few drops of lavender in a warm bath or Lavender sprigs in a cup of tea before bed to relax your body. Upon waking use a peppermint soap or a few drops of peppermint oil on a washcloth you bring into the shower. The scent will invigorate your senses and help to spur you on your way.
3. Get active - One of the key differences between Winter and Summer is typically the amount of physical activity we undertake. Moving the body stimulates blood flow to the brain, helps your Lymph node system to remove toxins and helps to generate a sense of overall well being. It doesn't take much to reap the benefits either. Just a few minutes of brisk walking, outdoor time or just play with the kids.
4. Vitamin D - Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to SAD and science is finding that many people find relief from systems with simple supplementation. Talk to your doctor about getting tested for a deficiency and if a regimen might be right for you.
5. Did I mention get Outside? - It might be cold but getting outside in the natural sunlight and environment can do wonders for your body and your mind. Breathe in the fresh air, reconnect with nature for a few minutes every week. Make it an appointment you don't miss.
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a real thing impacting a lot of people. With a few simple steps you can stay ahead of it and in many cases beat it back. The good news is that most of these suggestions don't cost a lot if anything. That said, if your symptoms prevail talk to someone. For some people, anti depressants or other remedies are the way to go. You and your doctor will be able to create a holistic approach that's right for you.