Every winter, you've probably read articles about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). As we're approaching the middle of Winter, I wanted to write a blog about dealing with S.A.D. from a more holistic approach.
Here are a few tips that are traditional and holistic to address the energetic and emotional needs in S.A.D.
1. Get your Vitamin D level checked pronto!
Before moving to Texas, I practiced in sunny Arizona. Do you know what I saw? Chronic Vitamin D deficiency! That's right, living in a sunny climate doesn't protect you or give you the levels needed for optimal health. Naturopathic Doctors like to see your Vitamin D levels between 50-80 ng/mL. Low levels of Vitamin D have been correlated with decreased mood and increased physical symptoms such as pain.
2. Beware of the other S.A.D!
In the naturopathic world, there's another S.A.D. that can make Seasonal Affective Disorder even WORSE! It's called the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). This refers to eating processed foods containing large amounts of sugar, fat, sodium, and top allergens such as gluten/wheat, dairy, and corn. Eating large amounts of processed food often leads to inflammation. This inflammation can manifest in a variety of ways including physical pain, weight gain, and decreased mood.
One of the devious little tricks about depression is that your body will often crave foods that are high in fat and sugar because they activate certain receptor sites in the brain to release those "feel good" chemicals dopamine and serotonin. This is why "comfort food" is often things like ice cream, macaroni and cheese, cakes, cookies, etc. However, eating these things increases inflammation, causes weight gain, and begins a vicious cycle of negative feelings about yourself.
Even though it may be an effort when you're feeling depressed to eat healthy, it's so important to choose food that will increase your mood. Think Mood Food! Since its Winter, I love to make soups. Chopping up a few vegetables can become a healthy vegetable soup with a few seasonings and little effort.
3. Surround yourself with YELLOW.
I love doing color therapy in my surroundings or clothes. Yellow is the color of the sun, and happiness. A few ideas to bring yellow into your environment include buying yourself yellow flowers and putting them where you spend the most time, wearing a piece of yellow clothing, and using yellow crystals or gemstones.
Yellow corresponds to the Solar Plexus Chakra. This Chakra is located above your navel and governs willpower, confidence, and self-esteem. Alternatively, you can use orange crystals to bring in more of that feeling of the sun and summer. These colors not only increase your self-esteem, but also help bring back your fire and creativity. Some crystals that would be good to support you with S.A.D. include Citrine, Carnelian, Fire Agate, Yellow Calcite, Sunstone, Amber, and Golden Healer Quartz.
4. Tidy up
When you're depressed, it can be hard to even think about keeping yourself or your environment clean. However, multiple studies have shown that having a clean environment helps reduce stress levels, promotes relaxation, and enhances creativity. Start with something very small, like one area of your home or even by making your bed! Don't be afraid to ask family members to help you clean. If you're suffering from S.A.D., you may need some extra support temporarily, and that's ok! You don't have to shoulder everything yourself, and self-care is very important.
5. Diffuse some uplifting essential oils.
Once your environment is clean and tidy, infuse it with an uplifting and motivating scent. Peppermint is cool and refreshing, but also stimulating. It helps wake-up and activate your brain. Citrus oils work with the Solar Plexus Chakra increasing self-confidence and will also uplift your mood. It's like bottled sunshine! Other oils for grounding and balancing include Frankincense, Balsam Fir, Cedarwood, and Myrrh.
There are lots of things you can do for Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Speak to your primary care provider and other members of your holistic healthcare team to determine what's best for you and your healing process.