The Winter months are often a time of less activity, and less natural light. This often leads to something called SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. The following are some great solutions to this seasonal depression.
Light deprivation, common in the winter, can disrupt circadian rhythms and neurotransmitter production. Bright light therapy, not only in the winter, can be an effective substitute for natural sunlight – applied first thing in the morning it corrects the body’s clock and stimulates mood-elevating neurotransmitters. Bright light therapy is effective for not only seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but it also has been found to be just as effective as antidepressants for treating depression.
Vitamin D is thought to regulate mood by affecting daily biorhythms and serotonin production. Reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter also means less natural vitamin D production by the skin. Low circulating vitamin D is associated with SAD and major depression.
DHA and EPA play an important roles in the brain and are associated with depression. EPA seems to be the more important of the two for improvement of depression symptoms.
Good nutrition is extremely important for regulating mood. High antioxidant intake from colorful fruits and vegetables helps prevent oxidative stress, to which the brain is highly susceptible. Markers of oxidative stress are associated with a higher incidence of depression. Low intake of folate, present in green vegetables, also correlates with depression.
Exercise is known to be as effective as antidepressant drugs or cognitive behavioral therapy for improving the symptoms of depression. Exercise increases production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being, which is often low in individuals suffering from depression. In fact, antidepressant drugs most often work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Aerobic exercise plus strength training works better than aerobic exercise alone, and yoga is also effective.
I hope the above will be of value to you as you go through the type of winter hibernation that we all experience during these darker months. Above all else time to spend quietly meditating, watching your breath move in and out of the body, while you detach from your thinking mind as if the thoughts passing through your mind are on a large screen and having nothing to do with you for at least twenty minutes a day. Get at least eight hours of sleep, make time to exercise and eat a whole food diet with many vegetables of all different colors and drink at least eight glasses of pure water daily. Reduce any stimulants like sugar, coffee and alcohol as well. With the above suggestions, this should help you pass trough the darker months of winter with good health and inner peace.
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Happy Winter everyone,
Barbara Bloom, CPT, CWLC