Do you find yourself a little blue, sad or even depressed during the long winter months? You are not alone, you (and many others) are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, a form of depression that coincides with the winter months.
According to Psychology Today, seasonal affective disorder affects as many as 10 million Americans annually. SAD is four times more common in women than in men and most who experience it are between the ages of 18 and 30.
Where you live affects your risk. SAD typically occurs as the days get shorter and colder and the further you live away from the equator, the greater your risk. SAD affects more people who live closer to the North and South poles, areas where there is very little sunlight during winter. This lack of sunlight and increase in darkness increases melatonin in your brain, signaling your brain that you are tired and sleepy. Reduced exposure to sunlight also causes a drop in serotonin levels which can trigger depression.
This combination of low serotonin and high melatonin can leave you feeling very sad, very depressed and very sleepy.
Short of moving to sunny Florida or the Palm Springs area in southern CA (which is where I live), what can you do to stay happy during the winter months?
Sadly (no pun intended) if you talk to your average doctor about SAD, he or she will likely suggest a combination of prescription antidepressants to boost your serotonin levels, but surely there are less drastic and natural alternatives.
Here are six ways to stay healthy and happy in winter:
1. Stay Well Lit - Since a lack of sunlight is one of the major factors in winter sadness, it makes sense to increase exposure to light. Adjust your sleep/work schedule to maximize your exposure to daylight hours. Keep your home and office well lit and if possible add “light therapy lamps” which emit UV light. Candles have also been found to add a happy, romantic or festive atmosphere.
2. Increase D Vitamins - There is a direct relationship between vitamin D and mental health. Eat more of the natural foods that are rich in D vitamins and antioxidants. Include fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon), and foods that are naturally high in vitamin D like dairy products and whole eggs with the yolks.
If you have food sensitivities to dairy, then choose a vitamin D3 supplement like ours which also has K2 and calcium for maximum absorption. An added bonus is that we our offering a 33% Off Winter Special on Radiant Wellness Vitamin D3 & K2 with Calcium. So, it's now only $11.39.
3. Go for a Walk - Getting outdoors may be less than appealing during the winter months, but after your first brisk walk, your mood will be significantly improved. Bundle up, add your earbuds and earmuffs, and get out there! Afterwards, reward yourself with a nice candle lit warm bath.
4. Get More Exercise - In addition to your therapeutic walks, find creative ways to get more exercise. Moderate, sustained (minimum 30 minutes) physical activity stimulates the production and release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Raising your levels of serotonin can quickly boost your mood and sense of well-being.
5. Take an Herbal Supplement – As you read earlier, seasonal affective disorder is caused because the body is not getting enough melatonin and serotonin. Taking a natural herbal supplement like the Radiant Wellness Natural Sleep Aid which contains melatonin and l’tryptophan that boosts serotonin will help you boost your mood during the day and get a good night’s sleep as well during the winter.
6. Drink Healthy Hot Chocolate Instead of Alcohol - While the occasional glass of wine may be therapeutic, alcohol doesn’t help people with seasonal affective disorder. In fact, alcohol is a depressant and depending on alcohol to “boost” your mood may prove dangerous.
Instead of alcohol, a healthy mug of Radiant Wellness Hot Chocolate will better warm your insides and your spirit. To learn why and get the recipe, please visit my new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/radiantwellness.net.
TAKEAWAY: Find natural ways like the 6 listed above to boost your mood and fend off seasonal affective disorder this winter.
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