Many of us suffer with seasonal blues, with symptoms that typically start with apathy and lethargy, and increase as the long winter sets in. Though few of us develop the full-blown symptoms of "cabin fever" made famous by Jack Nicholson in "The Shining", or even the lesser emotional breakdown of Chevy Chase's "Christmas Vacation", we can all relate more or less to some of those feelings, especially when holiday stress and seasonal mood swings coincide.
Seasonal changes in mood are as old as the seasons themselves, and seem to increase with latitude. They may be exacerbated for miners, factory workers, and others whose time outdoors is limited, especially during shorter winter days. The symptoms often come on strong at the same time every year: the beginning of fall and continuing into the winter months. Causes are said to include reduced levels of sunlight disrupting the body's internal clock, a drop in the "feel-good" hormone serotonin, and an unbalanced level of melatonin.
We’ve found 10 great ways to beat these symptoms naturally:
1. Sleep More: Take naps during the day, if possible, and if you feel tired. Having fewer hours of sun can interfere with brain chemicals that induce sleep, so make sure you are still getting enough sleep.
2. Think Light: Spend time in well-lit areas of your home so that your body associates the hours with daytime. Or you can also get phytotherapy, or bright light therapy. Bright lights suppress the secretion of melatonin, which decreases the desire for excessive sleep and helps alleviate depression.
3. Go Outside: No matter how cold it is, going outside for a little fresh air, taking a couple deep breaths and seeing the wide open sky, sun or no sun, will help to avoid the feeling of depression or feeling cooped up.
4. Keep Active: Exercise is critical to avoiding seasonal mood shifts. Even if it is just 20-30 minutes, exercise increases brain chemicals that lead to an overall feeling of “well being.”
5. Love More: Make sure you are around people you love, doing things you love as often as possible.
6. Eat Healthy! Avoid starchy carbohydrates that will lead to weight gain. Fill your diet with plenty of healthy lean protein options (protein improves mood), vegetables, nuts and seeds. Drink lots of water even though you are not as thirsty as you are in the hot summer months. Dehydration leads to depression and sluggishness among other things!
7. Laugh! Go to extremes to seek out the things that make you laugh such as comics, your favorite comedian, your kids, friends, movies, watching strangers at the mall, whatever makes you laugh is going to improve health and help avoid feelings of sadness!
8. Meditate: However you choose to meditate (prayer, yogo, silence, etc) is, do it often. If you don't currently use any kind of meditation, it is worth looking into and reading about. Meditation promotes feelings of calm, hope, and peacefulness.
9. Experiment with Oils: Essential oils help many to improve mood and create an atmosphere for feeling calm, relaxed or energized, happy, etc.
10. Supplement: Certain natural ingredients have been known to help boost moods and energy. These include:
- EFA (Essential Fatty Acids), which are vital for healthy brain and cell function and improve mood, energy and help fight depression
- Wholefoods-based multivitamin, which will help to supply the body with an adequate amount of nutrients the body needs to stay healthy and balanced during winter months
- Vitamin D, which will help to supply the body with extra amounts of VD that would normally come from the sun during the summer months
- 5-HTP, an amino acid involved in the production of serotonin
- L-Theanine, known to increase alpha brain waves which leads to relaxation combined with mental alertness
- Good herbs such as Gensing, St. Johns Wort, Kava and Lavender, which help balance hormones and chemicals in our brain that improve mood.
RidgeCrest Herbals supplements that include these ingredients in one way or another include Anxiety Free and Adrenal Fatigue Fighter.
If you or a loved one has experienced seasonal mood shifts, don't you think it is time to do something about it? A happier you is just waiting to get out!