As we are heading deeper towards the winter months and experiencing less and less light, many of us begin to struggle with depression, low energy, sleep, and focus. And this winter may feel even darker as headlines continue to focus on COVID numbers.
Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from SAD each year, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you feel that you fall in this category, you have good company. Know that you are not alone. Serious forms of SAD should be seen by a medical practitioner for diagnosis and treatment. However, many of us definitely feel the winter slump and there are some practical steps we can take to help us get through the darkest days of the year.
- Get Outside
Go outside and allow your eyes to see natural daylight during the day. Even better, get more bang for your buck and go for a walk, a run, a ski, anything active that you enjoy doing outside. Allowing your eyes to see daylight will help support your circadian rhythm and the exercise will give you a boost of endorphins.
If you aren’t able to get outside each day, then invest in a light box and spend some time in front of it every morning.
- Get your Vitamin D levels Checked.
This isn’t a cure-all, but there is a correlation between low vitamin D levels and low-moods. Optimizing your vitamin D not only supports a brighter mood, it also supports your immune system, healthy bones and healthy hormones. Just be sure to work with a nutritional therapist to ensure you are getting the right balance of nutrients.
- Eat Nutrient Rich Foods
The better you eat, the better you feel. Look for nutrient rich foods, bright colors, dark leafy greens and pasture-raised or wild-caught proteins. You may be thinking “but, in the winter there isn’t anything fresh!” Winter is a time to focus on squashes, root vegetables and warming soups. And what fats you eat really matters! Consume high quality olive oil, enjoy your avocados, wild caught salmon and if you eat butter, the more yellow the better.
- Eat Probiotic Rich Foods
Our gut and our brain are intricately tied and when our gut is out of balance, so are our moods. Serotonin is our feel good neurotransmitter and it is estimated that up to 90% of our serotonin is actually made in the gut! But here’s the kicker, we have to have a balanced microbiome to make healthy levels of serotonin. Eat nutrient rich foods to feed the good guys and include probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir (if you tolerate dairy).
- Optimize Sleep
With it being darker in the winter months, you’d think we’d all be sleeping better, right? But sometimes it is the reverse that happens. With all the artificial light during our day and so much time spent in front of a screen, it throws off our natural circadian rhythm. For some taking melatonin can be helpful, but I prefer to clear the low-hanging fruit first. Turn off your computer and phone at least an hour before bed and remove all electronics from your bedroom. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep! I also recommend that you stop eating by 7pm each night to allow your body to fully digest before heading to bed. We all sleep better when we aren’t digesting.
- Make Time for Friends
We may not be spending as much time with our friends in close-proximity these days, but meeting up for a walk outside or just setting aside time to call a friend each week goes a long way for our mental health. We are humans and social interaction is something we thrive on. Even if you are busy, make time for your friends. I bet they’ll appreciate it too.
–Kristi Brown, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Need additional support this time of year? We’re here for you. Start your therapeutic journey with us today.
Speak with one of our Psychotherapists or our Integrative Nutritionist to learn more ways to combat your seasonal depression.
Reach out via call or text (845) 547-0479, email [email protected] or visit NourishYourMind.com/Appointment