Tips for Beating the Winter Blues
(The fall and winter months has varying effects on each individual. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be extremely serious with symptoms ranging as far as suicidal thoughts. So, please stop reading this and reach out to your doctor immediately if you experience or have experienced anything close to those symptoms, or if you feel you need to get extra help at all (even in the least bit). And/or reach out to Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255)
Whenever the weather gets colder and darker, I notice small tasks become more difficult while my overall mood takes a hit. For instance, the time sitting in my car upon arriving at a destination multiplies by 10, I become emotionally dependent on everything being festive for any and all holidays I am humanly able to celebrate, and my daily attire becomes a mere uniform consisting of a rotation of the same 3 things.
Less sunlight in the fall and winter months can affect a person's level of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates mood) and melatonin (sleep and mood chemical). With this, some form of seasonal depression is said to affect around 10 million Americans and research by Thomas Wehr and Norman Rosenthal at the National Institute of Mental Health indicate women might be more responsive physiologically than men to changes in exposure to light and dark, making some form of seasonal depression 4 times more common in women. Interesting!
As I notice a difference in my mood and habits, the common response when mentioning it to anyone always seems to be "Oh my god, me too." ... Therefore, I come to think you having clicked on and are reading this experience a level of seasonal shift as well.
There are a range of things that can happen if you're affected. Some of the symptom examples I was able to gather together for seasonal depression (officially called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD - Is that acronym coincidental?) include:
- Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a normal routine
- Sleep problems, finding it hard to stay awake during the day, but having disturbed nights
- Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact
- Anxiety, inability to cope
- Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people
- Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason
- Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain
- etc, etc...
What can help?!
- SAD Lamps
Decreased amount of sunlight = increased level of melatonin (tells your brain it's time to sleep now)
Special lamps 20x the amount of regular indoor lighting, as I have provided below, are recommended for 30-60 minutes preferably towards the start of your day. Whether it's next to you on your nightstand as you wake or while sitting with your morning coffee, the earlier the more effective.
Citrus Oils - Orange, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Mandarin, Tangerine, Petitgrain, Neroli, Yuzu
Floral Oils - Blue Tansy, Chamomile, Geranium, Jasmine, Helichrysum, Lavender, Lotus, Neroli, Rhododendron, Rose, Yarrow, Ylang Ylang
- Open Curtains
When indoors, keep your blinds open to let in the most natural light possible.
- Keep a Journal
Especially for us in the colder climates, I tend to spend so much more time in the warmth inside my home. It's helpful to be able to write and get thoughts out while feeling a bit more secluded.
- Dietary Changes
Vitamin D - with less sunlight, comes less Vitamin D and thus can affect your mood.
Omega-3 - since the brain is mostly made up of fat, it's important to keep a good level of healthy fats in your diet to keep those brain chemicals happy and fit!