By Robin Foroutan & Stephanie Mandel
Feel the winter blues getting you down? You’re not alone! Millions experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to shorter winter days. This disrupts your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), leading to fatigue, low mood, and even trouble sleeping. But don’t hibernate just yet! There are effective ways to fight back and enjoy a brighter winter. Here are 5 proven tips to conquer SAD and boost your mood:
- Embrace sunshine:
- Optimize Vitamin D levels: Called the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D levels plummet during the winter in people who live north of the Atlanta-Los Angeles latitude. This vitamin is critical to the immune system, bone health, cancer prevention, heart health, and may improve mood. Most people will need to supplement at higher doses than the usual recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 600 IU per day to maintain optimal blood levels of 50-70 ng/mL. We recommend testing your levels ahead of cold and flu season, and adjusting your daily vitamin D3/K2 dose accordingly. A typical recommended dose may range between 2,000 IU per day to 5,000 IU per day.
- Get Direct Sunlight Daily: Since sunlight exposure is key to avoiding SAD, be sure to get some sun each day. Going for a brisk walk during lunch or in between meetings is an easy way to catch some midday rays. Try not to wear sunglasses all the time to allow your brain and the sunshine to sync and reset your circadian rhythm.
- Prioritize sleep and exercise, the winter wellness Tango:
- While SAD might make you crave extra sleep, remember, oversleeping can worsen fatigue and mask deeper issues. Prioritize 8 hours of quality sleep, but don’t let lethargy rule. Find gentle exercises you enjoy – a yoga session in the morning sun, a dance break to your favorite tunes, or a snowy stroll with a friend. Staying active, even in moderation, can boost your mood, regulate sleep, and keep the winter blues at bay.
- Light therapy:
- Imagine waking up to your own personal sunrise! Light therapy boxes mimic natural sunlight, and many people report feeling a noticeable boost in energy and mood after using them. For SAD, we recommend trying a 10,000-lux lightbox for 20-30 minutes early in the morning, sitting comfortably two feet away (avoiding direct eye contact). Can’t dedicate that much time? 5,000-lux options work too, just use them for longer daily sessions.
- Go beyond the basics:
- Natural mood boosters: Consider supplements like 5-HTP for mood support; 200 mg of Zen for calm support; or Adrenal Px Balance for energy support when under stress. Consult your doctor for personalized recommendations.
- Mind-body wellness:
- “Tap” away your stress with EFT: EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, a.k.a. Tapping) involves gently tapping on specific acupressure points while focusing on emotional or physical challenges to neutralize discomfort and worry. This technique has been reported to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, offering a quick and easy tool you can use any time to support your mental well-being during the winter months.
- Emotion and Body Code: Addressing the energetic imbalances associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder can be achieved through techniques such as the Emotion and Body Code. Practitioners use muscle testing – which can easily be done virtually – to identify and release trapped emotions, negative subconscious beliefs, and negative energy patterns that may contribute to low mood. By clearing these energy blocks, individuals may experience a positive shift in mood and overall well-being, mitigating the effects of shorter days and longer nights.
- Mind Body Spirit Release (MBSR): MBSR offers an intention-focused approach to tackle Seasonal Affective Disorder. Together, you and the MBSR practitioner set specific intentions – feeling happier, more optimistic, calmer, more energized, etc. – and identify and release negative energy patterns so those intentions can become your reality. This technique is particularly useful for those seeking transformation in areas such as mood, relationships, or life dynamics, providing a targeted and personalized approach to support mental and emotional well-being during the winter season
Remember, you’re not alone! Embrace sunshine, prioritize sleep, consider light therapy, and explore wellness practices to keep your winter mood sunny all season long. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor for further support.
Robin is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine and holistic healing modalities. She helps her clients address complicated conditions and return to wellness.
Stephanie Mandel is a Certified Emotion and Body Code Practitioner, a Certified Professional-Level MBSR Practitioner, and an EFT Tapping Coach. Not sure which technique is right for you? No problem – Stephanie will help identify the best approach for your specific goals. Call our office to schedule an emotional and energetic wellness session.