Do you feel the chilly winds and freezing temperature today? And it is not even the beginning yet. Technically we are not even in winter yet. Empty streets, fallen leaves, barren trees, gray skies, and chilly winds can be sad. Seasonal Effective disorder (SAD) affects over half a million Americans and 60-90% of them are women between the ages of 20 – 55. I didn’t realize how important sunlight is for our well-being.
What exactly is SAD?
The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be from lack of light in winter season. It is believed that less light can increase the production of melatonin in body that can lead to depressive like symptoms: feeling fatigued and tired, depressive mood, lack of interest in social activities, irritability, difficulty concentrating, feeling lethargy, and feelings of hopelessness and unhappiness.
Many of my clients report that fall and winter months can be brutal for them to keep up with their “happiness.” Although, anti-depressants can be helpful, but trying natural and practical ways to overcome SAD can help you avoid addictive medications and their side effects in your body. Here are some holistic and natural ways to keep SAD at the bay during this winter months:
- Take a walk outdoors specifically in the morning. Exercise is known as the first alternative for mild depression as it produces endorphins in your body that makes you feel happy.
- Make friends with cold, long nights, candles, snow, board games, hot chocolate, and many other winter season festive.
- Try winter sports. Bundle up and get out there in cold to experience a different face of nature. Surely, spring and summer are fun seasons. There is a lot to do in those months, but winter season also has its share of fun if we are willing to drop our defenses and try it. If nothing else, it may teach you to experience life more holistically because we live in a world of opposites. Quantum mechanics plainly points the paradoxical nature of the universe. There is day but night is there too. There is light but dark is there too. There is tall but short is there too. There is wavelike fluent energy but there is particle like rigidity too. There is summer but there is winter too. Start experimenting!!!
- Practice Mindfulness: The concept is that fall and winter months can feel long because you are already looking for spring and summer. As I said, no doubt there is a lot more to do in spring/summer months. Winter, on the other hand, can be gray, dark, cold, and miserable. We feel stuck and these months feel long because we are not in the now. We don’t want to be in the present moment. We feel spring and summer will give you the “happiness,” that you can’t have now. The truth is you feel stuck and miserable in winter because you are trying to run away from it to that moment of happiness in the future. You think spring will give you that happiness that winter can’t. Just like we try to avoid uncomfortable emotions.
- Remaining open and looking forward to the season. Being grounded in the now can free you to enjoy the wonders of the winter and the beauty hidden in this season. Keep your mind open for new experiences.
- Managing stress can a great preventative measure you can take to avoid SAD. Cold and long nights offer us plenty of opportunity for self-care and self-reflection. Use this time of the year to rejuvenate your spirit.
- Talk therapy: Depression or sad mood distorts our thinking and therefore reality. CBT or mindful-based CBT is a great alternative to treat SAD. Keeps stress in check.
Hope these are helpful tips. Please leave a comment if you have tried something that worked for you.