Do you know about 4 - 6% of U.S. residents suffer from SAD, and as many as 20% may have a mild form of it that starts when days get shorter and colder.
If you’re anything like me, reading this will make you feel so relieved! Because it reassures you SAD is a real thing and you’re not alone in it!
There was a time when I would think something was seriously wrong with me because of my crazy mood swings in the winter. A few years ago I found out my thyroid was a major factor in these mood swings, but even before that I seriously struggled each winter with SAD.
Know it’s not just a cop out or something to ignore. And there are very natural ways to manage it.
Here are a couple scientific, and my own tried and true ways, to get ahead of this seasonal demon possession. (hehe yes there were times I felt like I was possessed by an evil force).
Please know I never recommend or vouch for something I haven’t first tried myself… so you can rest assured everything I share with you has gone through a thorough testing ;)
1. Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D are a leading contributor for SAD. Your body makes vitamin D by using cholesterol and natural sunshine. In our modern world, especially winter, many people are deficient in vitamin D. Over time this can lead to low moods and even depression. If you are struggling with low moods definitely start by getting your vitamin D levels checked.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also associated with depression and anxiety. You can naturally get ahead of this by incorporating the right foods in your diet. Some of the best food sources include grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, organic free-range eggs, organic full-fat raw milk, and yogurt.
3. Eat smarter & take proper supplements
Certain foods, like chocolate, can help to enhance your mood and relieve anxiety. Other foods, like candy and carbohydrates provide temporary feelings of euphoria, but could ultimately increase feelings of anxiety and depression. If you struggle with SAD you want to avoid the quick fixes and comforty foods that can come with cold weather. This is a time to properly nourish your body with nutritious foods. There are also lots of natural supplements out there to help. I swear by my daily superfood shake because it provides the daily adaptogens and phytonutrients that help me combat hormonal mood swings.
4. Essential oils
Essential oils can influence the area of the brain that's responsible for controlling moods and the body's internal clock that influences sleep and appetite. You can add a few drops of essential oils to your bath at night to help you relax or on your pillow before you go to sleep. Essential oils from the poplar tree in particular were found to help depressive disorders in a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Natural Medicines.
5. Make outdoor time a priority
I know it’s cold, but time outdoors is going to significantly improve your mood. You’re struggling with cabin fever and while it can be tempting to just cozy up inside all winter, it will only make things worse. Try to get outside for even a few minutes each day when the sun is shining. I used to despise winter because I would be so cooped up and struggle with SAD. When I forced myself to try winter activities everything improved. Try something new to make this time of year a little more enjoyable. I cannot say enough about snow shoeing, cross country skiing, or downhill skiing. You get outdoors, stay warm because you’re moving, and added bonus get the endorphin release from the activities. I can honestly say I genuinely enjoy winter now because I’ve stopped pouting about it and figured out a way to enjoy it. If you’re not planning on moving- It’s worth it I promise!
6. Adjust your routine
Capitalizing on sunlight is key in the winter. Switch up your routine so you can either get outside for a walk or even a nice ride in the car when the sun is shining. I like to take a little meditative break each afternoon near a sunny window. Feeling the sun even just a little helps!
7. Exercise at night
I’m typically a morning workout fanatic but in the winter I switch it up a bit because it gives me a boost of energy in the evening. Let’s be honest with shorter and colder days it’s pretty damn easy to cuddle up and call it a day around 5:30 pm. This will only lead to legarthy, low moods, and anxiousness with time. Try doing your workout at night for a boost to still enjoy and be productive with those remaining hours of the day
I’m pretty sure journaling is a secret weapon for any type of anxiousness or depression. It has scientifically been proven to help you work through and release emotions. Not to mention writing triggers the creative right side of your brain. Use a journal to get out of your own head and work through all those negative emotions in a judgement free zone.
9. Dawn Simulators
Dawn simulators are alarm clocks, but rather than waking you abruptly with loud music or beeping, they produce light that gradually increases in intensity, just like the sun. There are different models of dawn simulators available, but the best ones use full-spectrum light, which is closest to natural sunlight.
Biggest Piece of Advice
More than anything I want to encourage you to have compassion with yourself. It’s really easy to get frustrated and angry when you are face to face with SAD. Know it’s a real disorder. You might not be able to fully control it, but you can manage it.
Rather than being frustrated, sad, or angry…. Try and approach it how someone with asthma approaches life. Sure it’s a nuisance, but there are plenty of people crushing sports and life in spite of their asthma.
Recognize the issue, come to terms with it, have a little self compassion, then care for yourself in a way that will help you still enjoy you life while managing it.
I promise these tips will help if you use them consistently. I also offer a free happiness course that gives you a boost in life by focusing on some simple daily habits for more energy and overall happiness.
You can check it out here.