The shortest day of the year is quickly approaching. In the Pacific Northwest, darkness descends by 5pm now. Most of our days are cold, rainy and dark. Many people experience feeling SAD in the winter months.
SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The changes in the weather due to the seasons can lead to depression in those who are highly susceptible. There are some natural remedies that can help you fight this disorder. Here are 8 natural ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Wear Bright Colors– Science has proven that viewing bright colors can lift your mood and make you feel happier. Often in the winter months we wear dark colors like black and gray and we save the brighter colors for the summer months. Try wearing bright yellows, light blues, orange and red in the winter to fend off depression.
- Get Outdoors – in the winter we spend a lot of time indoors in the recycled air because it is cold outside. Natural light and fresh air boosts endorphins, releases serotonin, and helps build your Vitamin D levels. Even if you can only spend 10 minutes outdoors, the natural light and fresh air will help stem feelings of sadness.
- Use a Natural Light Lamp –I have not tried one myself yet but I purchased a natural light lamp for my daughter who lives in Chicago. The instructions say to sit with the light shining on you for 30 to 45 minutes daily. The exposure to the natural light has been shown to ease SAD symptoms.
- Eat Brightly Colored Foods- the acronym SAD has another definition, Standard American Diet. When you eat the foods on the Standard American Diet you can be more prone to depression and anxiety. To lift your mood, increase your vitamins and nutrients and get your daily dose of superfoods, focus on brightly colored foods like oranges, carrots, lemons, yellow bell peppers, cabbage and green leafy vegetables.
- Get the Right Amount of Sleep- when you are affected by SAD you just want to crawl under the covers and sleep all day. Your mood and energy levels can be affected by both too much and too little sleep. To keep to optimum levels, experts recommend 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night. Some people do fine on 6 hours but you do not want to get less than that on a regular basis.
- Stay Hydrated – Usually when we feel tired in the middle of a busy day, the first thing we reach for is a caffeinated beverage. We grab a coffee, maybe add a little shot of double espresso and carry on. This can lead to feeling even more tired later and drains our body of nutrients. To naturally maintain your energy and avoid feeling down, make sure you stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water and add lemon to have a boost of colorful foods. You can drink the lemon water warm or have herbal tea with lemon for some added flavor.
- Exercise – moving your body gets your blood flowing and your heart pumping. This alleviates dragging energy and depressed moods. Even if you only get 10 minutes of walking in, exercise is on par with, if not better than, medication in helping with depression. Do 15 minutes of yoga, stretch out while you watch TV, take a quick 10- minute walk outside in the fresh air and combine two natural remedies at once.
- Avoid Too Much Sugar – sugar effects our blood sugar levels, taking us on a high and then crashing down once we’ve processed. This constant roller coaster affects our energy levels and takes away from our body’s ability to regulate our moods. Avoid sugar if you can and if you still want to have something sweet, have the natural forms of sugar in fruit, honey or agave which affect your blood sugar more evenly.
When you live in Northern climates, winter is something you have to deal with. Winter is coming (whether we like it or not). Try using these natural remedies and see if you can make it through this winter season feeling happy and energetic.