The acronym for seasonal affective disorder, SAD, is a perfect fit. Because that’s exactly how folks who suffer from this condition, sometimes called winter depression or the winter blues, feel.
Shorter days, less sunlight and holiday pressures can all add up to a serious case of the blues.
But you don’t have to just frown and bear it until spring rolls around again. And you certainly don’t need to start popping some risky pills and suffer through their side effects.
Because you can take steps to ward off seasonal depression naturally.
And the sooner you get started the better so you can glide through the toughest days of the year without a sign of your seasonal depression.
Stop seasonal depression with five drug-free tricks
Following are five drug-free tricks to help shut down the winter depression before it shuts YOU down.
1. Light therapy:
If you battle seasonal depression and haven’t experienced a light therapy box, it’s time to change that. Unlike traditional light bulbs, light therapy boxes emit light that your body will accept as a substitute for sunshine. And that means they could help you blow away your winter blues.
Light therapy has a positive effect on the brain chemicals that are linked to mood and sleep. So it could help you fight off symptoms of SAD. But it’s important to choose the right box. (Your doc can help you make the right decision.)
First, make sure you buy one designed specifically to help ward off seasonal depression. Regular lights just won’t do the trick. The box should emit a measurement of 10,000 Lux (the intensity of the light), and block as many of the UV rays as possible.
For best results, start your day with light therapy. You can sit in front of your light box while you have breakfast, catch up on the news, or read a book.
Turn it on for 20 to 30 minutes, within the first hour of rolling out of bed. Stick to the same routine every day. And remember to avoid staring into it.
2. Step outside:
Winter is often gray and dreary. And the days are shorter. But don’t let the cold keep you inside. Getting outside into whatever sunlight there is can make a massive difference to your mood.
So go ahead, bundle up, and head out for a walk whenever possible. A brisk walk after lunch can work wonders.
The sunshine will help drive away seasonal depression. But so will the exercise, which releases feel-good endorphins.
And when you’re back inside don’t forget to throw open the curtains and let the sunshine in. Every extra ray counts at this point in the year.
3. Essential oils:
Essential oils may seem like a strange choice for battling depression. But it turns out these potent extracts have the science to back them up, especially when it comes to improving mood or triggering relaxation.
Many different oils could help boost mood, but there are four experts say work well for seasonal depression…
- clary sage
The aromatic oils are absorbed both through your skin and through the olfactory nerve in your brain.
Pick up an infuser and let their scents fill your home with a mood-boosting aroma. Or combine a few drops with a carrier oil, like almond oil, and massage directly into your skin. They also work well in a hot bath (another depression fighter) to help you relax and lift your spirits.
4. Pop the right pill:
In wintertime, our vitamin D levels tend to plummet. And getting enough D is essential for keeping the winter blues at bay.
Ask your doctor to run a quick blood test to check your vitamin D levels. If they’re low talk with him about taking a supplement to boost your levels.
Other nutrients that can help ward off seasonal depression are St John’s Wort and those in the vitamin B family.
5. Try a dawn simulator:
If you suffer from SAD, the combination of a shrill alarm and waking up in the dark can be enough to ruin your mood before you ever get out of bed. Dawn simulators work by slowing raising the light level in your bedroom BEFORE the alarm goes off.
They mimic the effect of the sun rising, so they wake you more gently and more naturally. And according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, for many folks they work almost as well as a light therapy box.
Don’t let the winter blues destroy your mood. Fight off seasonal depression with these five drug-free tricks and stay sunny all year long, no matter the weather.