- Amy Donovan BNatMed
Putting the 😢 in SAD
This month I thought it might be useful to talk about how the winter months can affect our mood and of course, what we can do about it!
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD is a form of depression that is related to the winter months. It can vary from person to person, ranging from mildly low mood and low motivation, through to feeling totally disabled and requiring medication. It is something I used to really struggle with. I used to dread heading into the winter months, and totally hate the depths of winter. My mood and mojo would seriously drop! It didn't help that I am such a cold person, so the colder months made me feel even more wretched. I have since learned to appreciate winter a whole lot more, no longer dreading it like I used to. Regular exercise throughout all 12 months of the year, nourishing myself with healthful meals, getting more rest and early nights, meditation/quiet time and keeping my journal, along with regular bodywork have all helped me heaps the past few years. Winter blues got you? Here are my suggestions backed by both science and traditional medicine to increase quality of life and promotion of positive mood in participants in studies who have low mood through to clinical depression.
Affirmations - Writing things out as though they are already true. Affirming that you already have what you need to feel happy might look like "I am happy" "I have all I need to feel happy" "I am safe, comfortable, and happy." Gratitude - Shifting our focus to what we are already grateful for keeps us in the present, greatly assisting our mood. When we are present we squash the tendency to be anxious about what could be, or regretful about what has been - it is not possible to think about two things at the exact same time! Accept that the present moment is all we have. Focusing on at least 1 thing/person/experience that you are grateful for can elevate your mood immediately. Meditation, quiet time and breathing exercises - Quieting the mind has massive benefits on our mental health. In this world of go! go! go! it is so important to step out of this autopilot mode of moving from one thing to the next and take time to focus on breath and steadying your mind - again, the present moment is all we have. 10 minutes a day at the very least can be found for this quiet time and reflection no matter how busy we think we are. I try to incorporate mine into lunch time - 10 minutes at the end of my lunch with no phone or distractions, and it's even better when I can do this in the sun! If you feel you need help with this, check out YouTube for guided meditations that are about 10 minutes long to begin.
Bodywork like massage, osteopathy, chiropractic work, or energy treatments like Reiki - All of these help to promote a sense of calm, overriding a hyperactive nervous system to help to calm us down and feel good.
Exercise and movement - Endorphins or 'happy chemicals' are produced by our brain when we move our bodies regularly. We as humans are designed to move! Try to get movement outdoors where possible to get fresh are, sunshine, and a positive change in perspective. I love walking local streets and admiring people's gardens, stowing away inspiration and ideas for my own.
Get your vitamin D checked - Low levels of vitamin D can be a factor in low mood and depression, and with less time spent outdoors, shorted days and lower levels of sunlight this can mean our skin isn't getting exposure to sunlight to convert and create our own source of vitamin D. This can be tested by popping into your nearest Pathlab, Labtests, or local blood testing service provider clinic and requesting this be tested. The test costs around $45 and can be really illuminating (see what I did there? 😂) as if it's low this is a really simple fix through supplementation.
Nourish yourself through healing food choices - It can be so tempting to eat cheap and greasy, or sweets and cakes to get emotional nourishment through food over winter but you are going to feel better long term if your diet is built on a strong foundation of nourishing, fresh, seasonal foods. Foods that still contain life will give you life - unlike processed foods with no real nutritional value except highly processed carbs and unhealthful fats. Check out our e-books in the online shop as these contain easy to make meals using seasonal produce If you want to find out more about SAD, or to get help for yourself or someone you know you can read more here. Also, please know that I am here and available with appointments and packages for both new and existing clients. You can book online for these here or if you are unsure what to book, please don't hesitate to reach out via email Amy@calyxhealth.nz
Amy Donovan is a qualified and registered Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and
Massage Therapist working from her private clinic in Te Awamutu, New Zealand.