Let’s talk about something I don’t hear enough about.
Seasonal Affective Disorder = SAD = Winter Depression = ugh, I hate it.
This is something I’ve experienced pretty much every year for the last several years. When it’s cold out and there’s less sun, it’s way easier to stay warm and cozy inside.
I’ve always wondered what aspect of me avoids venturing out in the winter months, is it my:
- Winter hibernation / comfort mode
- Social anxiety
- Low energy
- Thyroid disorder
- Anti third-wheel disorder (back when I was single…)
But truly when you have no desire to see friends or family you love, go out and do the things you like to normally do, hardly can get out of bed, don’t want to eat, or overeat; when taking a shower for the day seems like the hardest thing to do… these are signs you’re a little on the depression side of life. Not a fun place to be. It sucks. And it’s so hard to get out of.
This Was Me
Last winter was no exception. In fact right around Christmas, within days even, I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t pull myself to buy presents for family. It was a chore to do much. I hate that feeling. I felt ungiving and awful but couldn’t. Those of you who know what I’m talking about, this is for you.
I decided it was literally time to do something about it. I tried anti-depressants a few years back which I did NOT want to be on. With my knowledge of natural health I knew it was possible to avoid that route and it was time to be real serious about it. I decided I was not going to live another winter this way. I had heard about light therapy so I looked into it.
My Effective Strategy
I did some research and bought a light therapy lamp. Wowwie! I was super excited when it arrived. Umm, and it worked. Within 2 days. No joke. I knew I needed to get out of the funk for the new year. And I was actually feeling myself come back to life after 2 days. My mom could tell it was working too. She checked in to make sure I sat in front of it every day. It was my priority. All you need is about 20 minutes. I turned it on while I ate breakfast. You don’t look at it. The light shines from above you, just like the sun.
I researched online and looked at reviews because spending that much money, I wanted something that was highly likely to make an improvement in my life. In my experience, this one works. It’s the one I use. It may not work as quickly for you but know that many people have had success.
Why I chose this light therapy lamp: it’s a large area to provide enough light, and it adjusts up and down so you can place it to shine from above, to emulate the way the sun shines. I found out from reviews that there may be something to the way the light hits the corners of your eyes from above that affects your hormones that regulate mood.
I’m getting ahead of the winter depression this year. I just brought my lamp out from storage since I’m not spending as much time outside and the days are getting shorter. If you or someone you know is susceptible to this disorder, get ahead of it this year.
Let me recommend a few more things that can help lessen those feelings of not wanting to do much, avoid people, being in that funk…
• Vitamin D can help.
Vitamin D taken in an optimal amount can decrease feelings of stress and improve your energy and mood. I recommend a liposomal or sublingual method for best absorption.
Your doctor can and should readily test your vitamin D levels (yay!) and can give you a good recommendation for how much. I personally don’t do less than 2000 IU because I know I am susceptible to lacking this vitamin and heavily feel the effects when deficient.
• Taking Omega 3 Oils are important
Your brain is 60% fat. So eating omega 3 fats helps your brain. It can raise your dopamine levels which is the natural antidepressant brain chemical. This translates to being more alert, focused and having a sunny mood.
The quality brands I recommend are Carlson Labs or Nordic Naturals. You can get these from your local natural health food store. There are a ton of options. Here’s what to think about when making your decision:
- Which delivery form is best for you? Flavored liquid, gummy or capsule? The difference being: do you mind tasting it? There are flavored liquids. The lemon flavored Carlson isn’t too bad. A liquid form will have to be stored in the fridge, so you’ll have to get in the habit of remembering to pull from the fridge daily. I personally have not tried gummies but some find it’s an easy form for them to take. And capsules should be ok at room temp and stored with your other vitamins. Pick what will be best for you so you take these important supplements daily.
- For improving mood, I would recommend a minimum of 1000mg of DHA and EPA combined. Look on the label to add them together for the total.
- Make sure to read how many teaspoons or capsules it takes to get to your desired amount.
- Talk to your doctor about the amount best for you.
My New Winter Routine
I usually take enzymes with my meal to help digest my breakfast and those fat supplements. I drop a few drops of vitamin D on my tongue, then I take the fish oil. Then I eat breakfast under my lamp. This is my normal daily routine that works for me. I follow this closely from about November through March until I start going back into the sunshine. It has been incredibly effective for avoiding the SAD winter days.
Stay On Track
These are my top 3 tips to avoid winter depression. These are the necessities I must actively work on beginning about November every year. If I notice I’m getting grumpier or feeling a lack of excitement about life, I remind myself to get back on track with my daily routine of supps and my daily bright light sesh. I hope this can help you too.
For more tips and reading
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Serving Up Nutrition does not diagnose conditions, prescribe medications or provide medical treatments.