Seasonal depression Also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the real deal. Coming from someone who has experienced I know first hand how rough it can be. Not only does it a take a toll on your mental health and relationships but it also impacts your physical well being and sometimes positive, uplifting self talk just doesn’t cut it! Today I wanted to share a few tips that as both a nutritionist and someone who has struggled with this in the past have found to be helpful.
1.Vitamin D- First and foremost our #1 priority is vitamin D. The reason we experience SAD is often because we are deficient in this crucial vitamin. Vitamin D plays a role in your health, it’s responsible for regulating over 2,000 genes in your body! It also helps work as an antibiotic working against illnesses like the cold & flu, and of course as a mood regulator for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means when you supplement with D you need to be consuming it with a healthy fat. This could include taking it with breakfast when you have eggs, with a small glass of coconut milk or with any of your meals that have any type of fat in them. The best sources of vitamin D are in liquid form, pills or through fish oil. For more information on dosage and what type may be best for you, feel free to reach out via email. I'd be happy to help!
2.Stay active & set goals- Don’t neglect your normal fitness routine! Now more than ever you need the endorphins produced from exercise and setting goals now more than ever can help distract you from the climate. I spend a lot of time outside in the warmer months so in the winter I swap that time for hot yoga to get a blast of heat for an hour and a half. I also try my best to participate in outdoor activities like snowshoeing and skiing to get myself outside in the fresh air. Even if you don’t love these activities or being outside in the cold it really does make a huge difference to get out of the house and get your body moving.
3.Try using a light box- I thought these things were so corny when I first was suggested one, but last year when I was going through school I spent every night with it on for an hour or two studying. I really felt like it made a big difference and my body could tell when it had absorbed enough. Studies vary on how long you should sit with the light but I say go with your gut. Your body (mainly your eyes) will know when you don’t need anymore (for me it starts to feel irritating). For the light box to be effective you need to keep it in the same position (slightly elevated above your head if possible), and consistently use it around the same time of day, every day.
4.Try aromatherapy- Essential oils can be beneficial for boosting your mood and alleviating stress which is often heightened when we experience SAD. Diffusing them is a great way to experience their benefits. My favorite oils for mood boosting and anxiety relief are DoTerra’s Balance and Serenity blends. Single oils like Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile and Bergamot can also be beneficial in fighting off those blues. Bonus if you can diffuse them while you’re using light therapy!
5.Travel somewhere warm- If you can swing it financially it really does wonders to break up those cold, dark months by traveling to a warmer climate for a week or two. This gets you some exposure to the vitamin D from the sun, allows you to do activities you love and explore somewhere new. All of these contribute to a boost in mood and engagement in life.
What are some of ways you fight SAD during those cold winter months? Share them below, so we can combat the winter blues together!