The winter months are here! For many, this season is a time for warm beverages, cozy blankets, and snuggling by a fire with a great book. But for others, they can experience a downturn in mood and energy. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to the changes in the seasons. SAD usually begins in the fall and continues into the winter months with most cases ending in the early spring months. Symptoms appear and disappear at the same time every year. If you have SAD, the first step is always to contact your doctor / naturopath.
Below are some tips and tricks to help you combat the “Winter Blues” and help keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.
Exercise - Lifestyle modifications can assume great importance on mood. Even just a brisk walk once a day can do wonders for your overall health and mood. Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as an antidepressant- but without the side effects. Exercise can help you have better sleep, higher self-esteem, and more energy overall. Supplement your workouts with some low-sugar alternatives such as Herbaland's Electrolyte and Pre-Workout Gummies.
Diet and Nutritional Support - It’s easy to indulge in comfort foods on those cold, cold days, but what we may not recognize is that we may not be getting all the nutrients we need. A vast amount of the North American population consumes a Standard American Diet (SAD). What is a SAD diet? It is a diet that consists of excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats, and is the primary cause of obesity and diabetes. Eating wholesome colorful foods that are packed with nutrients is crucial for our mental and physical health. Experimenting with fun new recipes will help you feel creative and satisfied. We would also recommend supplementing with a multivitamin to help fill any gaps within the diet Herbaland offers a Sugar-Free Multivitamin gummy that tastes great.
Meditate - Meditation is an incredibly powerful practice for the mind, proven through numerous scientific studies to boost emotional health. Guided meditations geared towards visualizations and positivity work wonders. One of our favorites is to visualize yourself on a nice warm beach, with the sun beaming down. Maybe practice your meditation with a heated blanket and a therapy lamp to really get the most out of your experience.
|Breath Work - It’s the first thing we do when we come into this world, but oftentimes we forget the importance of a nice deep breath. Whenever you feel anxious, moody, stressed or even just need a nice inhale, try this: Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Inhale until you feel your belly and lungs fill with air (2 seconds) and then slowly exhale until you feel like there’s no air left (5 seconds). Repeating this a few times can lower your heart rate and stress.
|Make Time for Things You Enjoy - When you make the time for things you enjoy it sparks your creativity and confidence. When our brains put our hands to work, our pleasure centers respond to neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine. So, take up drawing/ painting, wood working, or knitting and get those creative juices flowing.
|Get Your Rest - Many people compromise sleep in order to keep up with increased demands of a stressful lifestyle. Sleep hygiene is extremely important to maintain a happy and healthy mood. Lack of sleep can often lead to illness, so it is recommended you get 7-9 hours each night. Herbaland’s Sleep Plus Gummies are a great supplement for those who need that extra support.
|Alternative Light Source and Vitamin D3 Deficiency - Daily exposure to sunlight (10-15 minutes) is very important for overall health. Over the winter months a lot of us see a decrease in our Vitamin D3 levels. If you have a hard time getting enough sunlight, consider buying a therapy lamp or supplementing with Herbaland’s Vegan D3 and B12 gummies to help you feel your best every day!
|Gratitude Journal- Studies have found that having a shift in perspective and focusing on the positives in life can lower stress, improve sleep, and increase interpersonal relationships. For a simple start, try jotting down 3 things your grateful for a day. Looking back on earlier entries can help you recognize the many blessings you’ve enjoyed.
|Community - Spending time with like-minded people is a wonderful way to boost your mood and oxytocin levels. It could be a zoom hangout with friends, enjoying your favorite podcast, volunteering, or taking your furry friend to the dog park. When we are involved in our community, we feel understood, appreciated, and connected to a greater good.
Adopting these healthy habits can help improve your emotional and mental well-being during these winter months.
About 2 to 3% of Canadians will experience SAD In their lifetime. Another 15% will experience a milder form of SAD that leaves them only slightly depressed, but still able to live their life without disruptions. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder make up about 10% of depression cases. In addition to talking with your doctor and following some self-love practices listed above, always know there are resources available. Listed below are a few for Canadians:
Written by Jamie Carroll - Herbaland Co-op Nutritionist