It’s a cold, dark, dreary January here in Northern Indiana. If you’re struggling with the winter blues, you are not alone. But you also don’t have to suffer through the rest of the long, midwestern winter sinking deeper into the sadness and depression it often elicits.
What is the Winter Blues?
The winter blues (more specifically called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D.) is more than simply feeling a little tired and down in cold weather. It is a clinical condition that is caused by low levels of vitamin D as a result of minimal exposure to natural sunlight.
We all feel down from time to time, but have you noticed that come wintertime, you’re fighting sadness constantly? Maybe you’re fatigued, irritable, feeling negative, or having issues with your appetite as well. All of these signs look a whole lot like depression, but what makes it the winter blues (or S.A.D) is the fact that it only comes around during certain seasons of the year, namely the winter.
S.A.D. most commonly affects people between the ages of 20 and 30, but no one is exempt. Life circumstances are a major contributor to the winter blues, which is not limited by age.
If you’re dealing with S.A.D. symptoms, no matter your age or geographical location, there are natural ways to combat the winter blues!
What to do about the Winter Blues
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression, but we at Amberwood Terrace Chiropractic highly recommend against taking an antidepressant when there are safer and more effective options. The following natural options will have you feeling more like yourself in no time.
The bottom line is, you need more light! The winter doesn’t offer very much of that, so using a light therapy box can fill in the gaps. Actually, it’s incredibly effective, causing up to 85% of patients to see improvement with daily use. The Mayo Clinic has excellent tips for finding the right light box.
With the lack of light comes lower levels of vitamin D. A quality vitamin D supplement boosts serotonin, which is the chemical in your brain responsible for mood and sleep, among other things. Another contributing factor to S.A.D. is low levels of melatonin which messes with your wake/sleep cycle. A melatonin supplement can make all the difference. St. John’s Wort is an herb that has also proven itself very effective with the winter blues, especially when combined with the light therapy. Another excellent option is Ultracell which is full spectrum hemp oil or CBD. Dr. Hendricks here at ATC not only recommends it, but uses it personally. Set up an appointment with Dr. Hendricks to learn more about how CBD oil could benefit you!
With the fatigue that goes along with the winter blues, you’re probably balking at the idea of exercise. But I promise it’s worth it! Exercise, even a simple half hour walk, can vastly improve your mood and will even give you a boost in your energy levels. You’ll have the added bonus of avoiding winter weight gain!
S.A.D. impacts your sleep, making it even harder to get a night full of it. When you’re tired all day, it’s that much harder to deal with your emotions and it can lead to more intense irritability and deeper depression. Prioritize healthy sleep by setting and sticking with both a bed time and a wake time. Avoid caffeine and sugar, and screens/TV at bedtime. Exercise helps with sleep, as well!
- Go Outside
The sun does still exist in the winter, even here in Indiana, so soak it up every chance you get! Take your walks outside. Go for hikes. Here’s your excuse to spend some time on the slopes or at an outdoor skating rink. If the sun is out, you should be too!
There’s a reason certain foods are called “comfort foods.” We crave them when we’re feeling down. Unfortunately, comfort foods are typically packed full of processed sugars and simple carbs. Not only are they not healthy, they contribute to your winter blues. Instead, focus on protein, antioxidant-rich foods, and vegetables.
Choosing even one of these natural options will help you combat S.A.D, but combining the implementation of all six could be a game changer. Don’t waste the rest of this winter succumbing to the winter blues. Take steps to fight them instead!