Ever have the winter blues? Maybe a touch of clinical winter onset depression? Maybe the loss of daylight hours, combined with cold, damp, and dreary can throw your rhythms out of sync.
Shorter days can be big problems in the northern regions, like Maine, Alaska, North Dakota, and Minnesota. One solution is a light box, which can help decrease melatonin secretion and increase positivity boosting serotonin and other neurotransmitters. It can help restore your normal rhythm of waking and sleeping inside of 7 days.
From Experience Life:
“Bright light therapy is the fastest known established treatment for seasonal depression,” says psychologist Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of The Depression Cure. Beginning in early fall, try 20 to 30 minutes of light therapy between 6 and 9 a.m. and another 15 to 20 minutes between 5 and 7 p.m. Too much afternoon light can disrupt sleep, so experiment to find the right balance.
Avoid Sweet Deception
Sweeter foods, simple carbs, and candy can trigger and insulin surge, increasing serotonin production in the brain. But this rush of good feelings does not last. Better to eat complex carbs, like beans, legumes, and root vegetables to keep your blood sugar more stable. SAD sufferers should favor what the body wants in summer, like lean proteins and light, digestible vegetables. I have rarely craved sweets, at least as an adult.
Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, help the brain use serotonin more efficiently. Foods high in fat, like fried foods, and grain fed meats are inflammatory and cause the brain to ramp up its stress response. A supplement of 1000mg of omega 3 supplement will help keep the brain in balance. And 2000IU or more of Vitamin D3 can reduce inflammation and help elevate mood, since we produce less D3 in the darker winters.
Keep It Moving!
A good workout is one of the best defenses against the winter blues. Find a way to get outside, whether walking the dog, shoveling snow, or walking. The benefits are both the motion, and the sunlight! I se my Peloton every other day, faithfully!
Excessive sleeping is a symptom of SAD, due to the higher melatonin levels produced by less daylight. There is nothing wrong with getting more sleep. But it is important to keep your normal routine for waking and sleeping. I always try for at least 7 hours.
Yoga and mindfulness training are powerful tools to fight depression. Your brain can chemically be changed using mindfulness.
Indeed, mindfulness can be the foundation upon which other SAD-busting strategies — light, nutrition, exercise, and sleep — are built. “If you learn to pay attention to your body, how it’s starting to change and react to the season, you can listen to what [it] needs and respond,” says Emmons.
I don’t know about you, but I think I will begin implementing some of these “treatments” this week.