Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a medically recognized form of clinical depression that typically occurs during the darker winter months. It is most likely caused by shorter daylight hours which cause shifts in the body’s biological clock and hypothalamus.
The winter blues are most severe during November, December, January and February.
Some symptoms include:
- Loss of sex drive
- Mood changes
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Sleep problems
- Weakened immune system
A little background on brain health: During the hours of darkness, the pineal gland produces a chemical called melatonin which makes us feel drowsy and signals the time for sleep. Exposure to sunlight prevents the production of melatonin whilst increasing the production of a neuro-transmitter called serotonin.
When the seasons change, the circadian rhythm (biological clock) in your body shifts due to the changes in daylight, and this can affect the body’s production of serotonin and hormones. It has been discovered that disruption to the body’s circadian rhythms together with a decreased production of serotonin can trigger depression.
Hence the need for natural daylight!!
Move & Groove Every Day
Exercise pumps up your endorphins, your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters.
Movement supports a sense of well-being, while flushing away any residue from the holidays and BOOSTS the immune system!
Experiment with what type of exercise works for you and GET MOVING!
I keep a rebounder in my office and find myself taking short breaks to JUMP. Five minutes of rebounding generates such a boost of energy and gets the blood pumping!
Support your Vitamin D levels
Vitamin D plays major roles in:
- immune function
- heart health
- joint health
- manages blood pressure
- oral health
- mental health (as low levels are linked to depression and anxiety)
- supports weight management
Ways to increase your Vitamin D levels:
- eat fatty, cold-water fish like salmon and sardines
- consider supplementation (here is a link to my last blog on my favorite winter supplements http://www.sunshinekates.com/blog/winter-essentials
- take a vacation someplace warm and sunny ( I know it isn’t always practical to step away from life and resources can be limited, but if you really struggle with the winter blues, taking a short trip to soak up vitamin D does wonders for the spirit).
I hear it over and over again around this time of year 'I'm on a detox cleanse'.
Yes, it is a wonderful time to move away from the overindulgence of the holiday season. But please remember this beauty, DON'T STARVE YOURSELF!
During the winter, your body needs and craves heartier foods rich in high quality protein and essential fatty acids. You need food to maintain immune function, hormonal balance and energy.
Take the time to nourish your body through warming soups and stews.
Start your day with a boost of protein through eggs or a superfood smoothie.
Feed your body healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds, nut butters, guacamole. Lean proteins and essential fatty acids can boost levels of serotonin (which can be deficient with SAD). An increase of starchy carbs and sugars can leave the body feeling bloated and the mind foggy.
- Don't skimp on this essential foundation for life!
- Emails, projects and everything can wait until the morning.
- Give yourself permission to rest and restore for at least 7-8 hours!
- Create a sleep sanctuary for yourself. Remove all electronics, including your cell phone from your nightstand.
- Buy yourself a good ‘ol battery operated alarm block.
- The lighting in your bedroom should support a peaceful environment.
- This room should be used for sleep and sex only.
- Not for falling asleep with the light of the television shining on your pretty face all night.
- Without proper sleep, your body cannot regulate its natural detox pathways. What does this mean the next morning?
- We wake up looking puffy and have an increase in cortisol production in the body, leading to excess weight.
Have you ever heard of the ‘Happy Lights’? I had not until I spent my first winter in Seattle during college. I found myself calling it a day by 4pm, with pj’s on and feeling very blah… These ‘Happy Lights’ provide Natural Spectrum light comparable to daylight. Natural spectrum light cues the body and boosts energy while reducing sluggishness. This lovely light was a game changer for my whole body!
Another form of light therapy is using the Infrared sauna.
The light found in a far infrared sauna is far infrared light, a type of invisible light located below the optical color red in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Far infrared light is used to purify polluted air, keep newborn babies warm in hospitals, promote growth in plants and more.
The infrared saunas we have are equipped with Chromotherapy Lights. Chromotherapy is the science of using colors to adjust body vibrations to frequencies that result in health and harmony. Each color possesses frequencies of a specific vibration, and each vibration is related to different physical symptoms.
Our bodies need the sun’s light to live. Color therapy works on various energy points to help balance your body via the full spectrum of visible light, each color addressing a distinct need.
Enter in the many benefits far infrared light offers in sauna sessions:
- increased blood circulation
- improved cardiovascular functioning
- strengthened immunity
- relief of headaches, muscle pain and joint stiffness
- deep cellular detoxification
- improved sleep quality
- decreased stress levels in the body
Ready to stop reading all about the infrared sauna and come experience it for yourself? Book your experience here: http://www.sunshinekates.com/infraredsauna/
Essential oils influence the limbic system, which is the area of the brain responsible for controlling our moods and the body’s circadian rhythm.
Using uplifting and energizing essential oils can be used as room diffusers, pillow sprays, body mist, bath soaks and body oils can boost the spirit and support the emotional body.
These oils can include (but not limited to):
We’ve created a supportive ‘Beat the Winter Blues Kit’ to support you not only surviving but THRIVING during the winter months! Explore all of its magic here: http://www.sunshinekates.com/shop-sunshinekates/beat-the-winter-blues-kit
I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to beat the winter blues!