Do your energy levels plummet once the summer months are over? Does your motivation to socialize with friends and family or even leave the house disappear when the sun does? And do you start to feel more “normal” when springtime — and more daylight hours — return? You might be suffering from the seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
The winter blues are well known and quite common — after all, these months come packed with a lot of holidays that can be emotionally draining. Combine that with minimal time in the sunshine, especially if you work in an office, and cold weather that seems to scream “stay home and get in a blanket,” and it’s no wonder that people tend to be a bit anti-social and grumpy from November until about April.
But for some people, the “winter blues” is more than just curling up with Netflix for a few weekends in a row. Those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are experiencing a type of depression that rears its head during certain seasons.
Here are 8 natural tips for beating the winter blues:
1. Chase The Light
More significant exposure to natural light will help with hormone production if, like most of us, you do not have the option of simply disappearing to hotter climes for the winter months. Working in an office for hours each day does you no good, so a walk to work in the morning or taking your lunch outside can all help to improve symptoms. Open your blinds at home and sit by windows when you can; even small changes to get more natural light will help.
2. Eat More Complex Carbohydrates
You might crave junk food and greasy comforting things like pizza and mac 'n' cheese during the sluggish, cold winter months, but stuffing yourself with sugar and refined flours will only make you feel even grosser. Complex carbs take longer to digest, which means they don't cause spikes in blood sugar that can create roller-coaster moods; they also increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Opt for whole grains and complex carbs like spinach, yams, broccoli, beans, zucchini, lentils, skim milk, and more, which will fill you up while also providing long-lasting nourishment.
You might crave junk food and greasy comforting things like pizza and mac 'n' cheese during the sluggish, cold winter months, but stuffing yourself with sugar and refined flours will only make you feel even grosser.
3. Simulate Dawn
People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter and fades as the weather improves, may feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, and have trouble waking up in the morning—especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, a device that causes the lights in your bedroom to brighten over a set period gradually, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed.
4. Eat A Serotonin-Boosting Diet
If you’ve got the winter doldrums, you may find yourself craving and be eating more sugar and refined carbohydrates than usual. A healthy diet should emphasize vegetables, fruit, protein sources, and healthy fats, but you don’t have to give up eating carbohydrates completely.
In fact, there is a dietary “trick” that raises levels of mood-boosting serotonin by strategically eating healthy carbohydrates unaccompanied by protein.
5. Get Some Exercise
Physical exercise is a proven depression buster, so don't use winter as an excuse to miss out on all those awesome mood-enhancing endorphins and neurotransmitters.
6. Stress Management
During the winter, it can be hard for people with SAD to handle stress, which can worsen the condition. So do what you can to minimise stress. For example, try not to take up projects with an early spring deadline or even take on too much. Meditation and yoga can also help.
7. Add A Vitamin D Supplement
Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, has been linked to depression. Patients with the seasonal affective disorder often have low levels of the vitamin.
While scientists aren’t sure why that’s the case, it’s worth checking with your doctor to make sure your vitamin D levels are up to par. Because most U.S. adults have some deficiency in the vitamin, adding a supplement could help you feel better and even improve bone health and boost your immune system.
8. Get Social
Isolation does nothing to improve SAD symptoms. Especially in winter, it can seem appealing to retreat into your shell or stay at home on cold days and nights, but being around other people can boost your mood.
The winter blues is a type of depression that occurs during the shortest, coldest, and darkest days of the year and then dissipates come spring. In this post, I shared with you 8 natural tips for beating the winter blues.
Comments will be approved before showing up.