If you’re experiencing a dramatic emotional shift around the same time each year, you’re definitely not alone — especially when the clocks change and days become shorter and darker. About 10- 20% of people in the U.S. have increased sadness and tiredness during the winter, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or seasonal depression.
Although this may come off as just the winter blues, it shouldn’t be just written off as a grumpy mood. Darkness and lower temps are just a couple of the things we physically encounter, but internally there is so much more.
Common SAD symptoms include:
● Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
● Agitation & anxiety
● Sleeping issues
● Appetite or weight changes
● Difficulty concentrating
● Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Symptoms pertaining specifically to winter SAD include oversleeping, appetite changes that include craving foods that are high in carbohydrates, weight gain and reduced energy.
Why It Happens
The typical physiological cause of seasonal depression includes a disruption of your body’s circadian (your body’s biological clock) and serotonin levels, which play a big role in mood and sleep — zzz’s stimulated by melatonin, which is made at a higher level in the dark. In other words…SNOOZE FEST in the winter time. However, seasonal depression doesn’t have to be something that hinders your emotional well-being as soon as the leaves start to turn.
Alas, if you feel you need to get professional help, always do. Everyone’s experience with SAD is going to be a little different.
For the most holistic approach, there are several methods of self-care to try out.
1. Invest in Rest
Your body is fragile during this time. Take the time and money to uplevel your rituals and routine — meditate, acupuncture, yoga, breathwork and even massage therapy. When you calm your body and drop into a parasympathetic state, you give your brain much-needed rest which increases focus and flourishes positivity.
There are many meditation practices that support your body to organically move into a restful state. Here are four meditations you can practice right now to connect more deeply to rest. You can also try to take this quiz to find out with meditations are best for your personality type.
2. Eat warm, grounding, anti-inflammatory foods
In America when we are sick we eat chicken noodle soup. In India, their equivalent is a lentil or mung bean-based dish called Kitchari. It is warming, healing and delicious — here is my fav recipe!
3. Get outside
Movement in moderation is key in the winter months! Get social and or simply get your body off the couch as it reduces anxiety and stress and increases self-esteem. Not to mention artificial, indoor light will ever compete with the real deal. Even if you don’t go outside… throw open those curtains and soak up that vitamin D.
If the weather is above freezing try your best to bundle up and spend some time outdoors, connecting to earth elements and nature. Try to sweat 4-5 times a week — a hot yoga class with friends or a brisk walk on the treadmill to get your blood pumping and your body warm.