By Tahjaneé Singleton
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs with the changing seasons and happens around the same time each year. Reduced daylight, changes in weather, and limited access to our favorite activities all contribute to what we refer to as “Winter Blues”. Symptoms could start as early as late summer and can last into late winter until signs of springtime start to show. These feelings can start off mild and become more intense into the colder months. Symptoms include low energy, changes in weight and appetite, and lost interest in things that usually make us happy. Some severe symptoms like agitation and anxiety, feelings of depression as well as guilt and hopelessness could also happen. It is no wonder why we have lethargic feelings when we receive less sunlight during the winter. The changes in season affect our bodies’ natural circadian rhythm. Hormones responsible for regulating body functions like hunger, metabolism and appetite are thrown off. The shifts in serotonin, cortisol, and melatonin production directly affect our sleep patterns and moods. During the holidays, we’re no longer as rested in the mornings and routines may be disturbed. People find less time for exercise and tend to indulge in foods that inflame and disrupt our bodies. This makes our immunity vulnerable to viruses and disorders which all affects our quality of life.
Treatment for Winter Blues could be an all around effort. Changes to our lifestyle as well as mindfulness in our daily routines may alleviate the stress on our nervous system. We look to nature for guidance as all of our support can be found by simply being in tune with Earth’s natural cycles.
Rise and Set with the Sun: In the cold seasons, it can be difficult to peel ourselves from bed in the morning. We may allow ourselves an extra few minutes to scroll our newsfeed before we find that we’ve missed breakfast and now we’re late to work. Rising with the sun allows our body to produce necessary hormones and nutrients that keep us active throughout the day. As the sun hits its peak in the sky, so does the energy levels in our body. When the sun’s light becomes weak in the evening, so do our bodies. Try to save those moments after waking up for a light morning stretch to activate your organs. Plan out your day so that the most energetic tasks are completed during daylight. The sun tends to set earlier in the afternoon this time around, so beginning our night routines early in
the evening will allow more time for our bodies’ to process the day, wind down and prepare for rest.
Eat in Season: Nature gives us a variety of fruits and vegetables rich with nutrients at the times our bodies’ need it most. Produce available in the colder seasons provide us with everything necessary to keep our bodies warm and protected during the winter. Think about the natural essence of each fruit, vegetable, and herb available to us in the colder seasons. Starchy, root vegetables that grow close to the Earth, like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and ginger, offer a grounding element to our bodies that keep us warm and stable. Cinnamon, ginger and clove each contain a heating element that adds to our digestive fire, keeping us warm from the inside out. Our bodies crave hearty stews, soups, broths and teas in the winter for its nourishment and soothing abilities. Stewed fruits, porridges and oatmeals are great additions for breakfast. Try to avoid raw foods, cold juices/smoothies and salads in the winter months as it adds too much cooling element to our digestive system. Take a moment to reflect on the natural element of each food you consume. Always reach for organic, non-GMO produce whenever possible.
Stay in Tune: Now that our bodies’ natural functions are aligned with the cycles of the sun, and our warm bellies are full of organic and grounding foods, symptoms of SAD are alleviated. Ways to maintain health during the chilly seasons can include treatments, supplements, quiet time in nature and light activities. Chiropractic treatment effectively improves the signals our brain receives from our spine. This brings balance to our emotional state and realigns our spine. Therapeutic massage is deeply relaxing, and not only targets sore muscles but improves blood circulation and elevates our mood. Acupuncture and craniosacral treatments are powerful therapies that also deal directly with the nervous system. To support the nervous system, supplements such as Magnesium Glycinate, Ashwagandha and 5-HTP include medicinary components that work to relieve anxiety and increase serotonin levels. Lastly, recent studies show that excessive screen time increases anxiety and inflammation in our bodies. Quiet time spent in the solace of nature helps to calm our nervous system as well as reducing time spent in front of electronic devices. Bundle up and take a brisk walk near the water or in the woods or share a hot meal with a loved one. All of these things we
can use to stay in tune with the changes of nature. We owe it to ourselves to maintain our health throughout all seasons. Wishing you health and wellness.