I am so glad it’s darker earlier!!! Said no one ever. Ok, ok, so yes it’s darker earlier, blah blah, are you tired of hearing about it? I am, BUT, it is really kicking my a$$! Here’s why, with less light, we just feel blah (see above), unmotivated, slower, and just plain sad. Sometimes, even more severe we may find ourselves struggling a little with depression. I recently stumbled upon this great article about seasonal sadness that was TOO GOOD not to share, largely because I think we brush it off like it’s something that really isn’t a thing, but in reading and researching further I always knew it was a real thing but now a thing that I believe affects me. Seasonable sadness is something a lot of us may over look. Kris Carr (kriscarr.com) all things amazing Wellness Warrior says,
“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that impacts millions of people each year. It generally kicks in as the hours of daylight get shorter and can last till early spring. Apparently, 60-90% of folks with SAD are women. Guys certainly aren’t immune but us gals seems to struggle with it more.” (2014).
It’s an important time of year to pay attention to this, when we stop and think “what’s wrong, I just feel low or I don’t get why I feel this way”, it could be definitely because of the seasonal change. Here are some great tips from Kirs to get us seasonal ready to address the bluey blues.
- Make sure you’re taking vitamin D.
In addition to depression, a vitamin D deficiency is linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases and bone loss.
- Up your omega-3 intake.
Omega-3’s can help maintain healthy levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitters) that increase happiness and reduce symptoms of depression. Vegan sources of omega-3’s include flaxseed, hemp and walnuts.
- Get Aerobic exercise.
Exercise not only improves our mood but it also reduces anxiety and stress, both of which can worsen depression. Take a brisk walk outside, invest in some warm winter workout clothes (I’m totally geared up for chilly rides now, no excuses—oiy!). Shoot for at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. You will feel so much better if you move consistently.
- Purchase one of those sun lamps.
Although I haven’t tried it, I know many people who swear by light therapy. Basically, you regularly sit in front of a special light box that emits full-spectrum light similar in composition to sunlight. It’s been shown to be very effective for helping people with SAD. Dr. Weil goes into great detail about light therapy in this article. Might be worth a shot!
- Go outside anyway.
Exposure to outdoor light is still important so try to get outside daily for at least 10 minutes. Yes, it’s chilly (we already talked about warm clothes) and cloudy, but light still pokes through and tickles your brain through your glorious peepers. This increases your serotonin and dopamine levels, which as I mentioned above, both play a star role in your joy factor.
- Leave the hermitage (and not just for dinner and drinks).
If you get that cooped up, bored feeling over the winter months, shake it up. Are there some local book readings that interest you? While creating a routine can be healthy, sometimes it can also create stagnation.
- “Warm” up your green drinks and recipe repertoire.
Green juices, smoothies and salads can be less appealing when all you want is a cup of hot cocoa. But juice can have a “warming” effect if you add a little kick to it. I like to put extra ginger in my green juice when it gets chilly outside. It promotes circulation and healthy digestion. And to ensure you’re getting plenty of veggies during the colder months, add them to your soups and stews. One of my favorite recipes is Crazy Sexy Bean Chili from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It’s packed with veggies and fresh herbs including sweet potatoes, jalapeno and cilantro.
Create and stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Don’t miss your 8 hours of zzz’s and don’t over sleep like a teenager either. Get your cute, fully-rested ass out of bed and carpe diem. There are many ways to set yourself up for sleep success. They include, a cool room, covering or removing electronic gadgets that emit light (this messes with your pineal gland and melatonin levels) and staying away from caffeine past 10 am. If you suffer from insomnia, you may want to check out some sleep meditations (Deepak has a great one) and also EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
- Don’t eat shitty food.
Improve your diet, improve your mood. Ok, so this isn’t a newsflash, but crap food creates crap thoughts, sleep and health. Yet, when we’re blue we often go crazy with the crap. It’s sweater season after all, no one will see the ever-growing donut taking up residence around our middle. But here’s the sitch: Trans fats, sugar (all that halloween candy you stole from your child), processed carbs, etc all contribute to the overall malaise that go hand in hand with SAD. Protect your brain chemistry, your metabolism and your blood sugar by choosing whole foods, healthy fats and lots of fibrous plant-tastic snacks and meals.
The most important thing we can do is to continue to improve ourselves; our minds, our bodies and our hearts. We do this through the constant practice of nurturing ourselves and expanding our minds. I love learning and discovering just about everything. Check out Kris’s website below and as we move into the cold months, let’s embrace the dark and find new ways to bring in light. Peace and be well.
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