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Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner, and I cannot diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. This post gives suggestions for mild depressive feelings, not for clinical depression.
It’s that time of year.
For many people with depression, their disease does not take a break. They feel it in the summer as well as in the winter. But there are also the folk who are strongly affected by the lack of sun and heat when winter comes. Whether diagnosable Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or not, it can be devastating. Doing what you can to ward this seasonal depression off or to dig yourself back out can go a long way towards getting through the winter.
For severe depression, this advice will not always work, and next week I will be addressing that in a piece that has been on my heart for a long time. But this week is aimed at those who have depressive moods and mild imbalances.
Today let’s help pick things back up and give you back your spark.
Why are we happier in the summer?
In the winter, people who live farther away from the equator get to contend with a reduction of sunlight, cold weather, and the evolutionary reminder of lack of food and other seasonal difficulties. Low mood and energy, as well as a desire to eat everything, are wired into us as a way to conserve calories.
In the summer, we are able to be outside and run around for the fun of it. In the winter activity must be intentional. Fresh produce and its nutrient density is abundant, while even in our global society it is scarcer in winter. The days are shorter, and we are unable to get as much vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin D is important for the proper function of everything from hormones to bone strength. Low vitamin D has also been shown to be a risk factor for depression. Most people are deficient to some degree, and this deficiency is at its worse during the dark winter months.
Natural Depression Remedies to Bring that Back
Get up and move. The endorphins that a hard workout brings can be hard to beat when it comes to lifting your spirit. But exercise can do more than this. It can help give you more energy and improve your overall health. When your body feels good, your mind is more likely to feel good as well. If you aren’t sure how to get your body moving, check last week’s post about how to add activity into your life.
Eat real comfort foods. Let’s be real, there are days when it feels like comfort foods will make everything better. When you need something warm to fill your soul on a cold, dark day, opt for a nourishing option. From a hot bowl of soup to my favorite garlic mashed potatoes, there are plenty of real food options that will nourish your body and your soul. My favorites are any of my GAPS soups.
Clean up your diet. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It was originally designed to heal the gut as a solution for mental health disorders. Now you don’t need to go on GAPS at the first sign of winter sadness, but the principles are something to keep in mind. By cleaning up your diet and eating real food, your body will better be able to regulate its blood sugar and it will be fueled with micronutrients that it needs for healthy brain function. Even just cutting back on sugar and increasing vegetables can make a huge difference. Frozen vegetables are a great option, as they are frozen at the peak of freshness.
Do something new. Break out of the monotony that is winter. Waking up in the dark. Working. Going home in the dark. Sleeping. Being cold. Shake things up! Take a class or pick up a new hobby. Travel. Excite yourself! This doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Just something!
Be with loved ones. Someone that will be there for you and makes me happy. Not someone who will make you feel bad or ungrateful for feelings that you can’t control. Talk to them about what you are going through, or just spend time with them to take your mind off of things.
Sun therapy. If you have money for an investment, the next two suggestions have helped a lot of people. A light box can be used to help your circadian rhythms, improving sleep (which can go a long way towards making you feel better). They can also help with vitamin D production which, as discussed earlier, has a tremendous effect on mental health. Here is an example of a light box you can buy.
Earthing gear. Earthing is also known as grounding. It involves connecting yourself with the earth for at least 15 minutes every day. This balances out the electrons in your body, promoting overall balance and wellness. You can learn more about earthing in this book. In the summer, this can be as simple as walking around barefoot and laying in the grass. In the winter, it is much more difficult. This is when employing earthing equipment, such as shoes, sheets, or mats like this one can really help. I use earthing shoes, but sadly my favorite company is no longer in business.
And when these steps aren’t enough? Take it a step farther next week.
I have also been greatly helped by using essential oils to help with my winter moods. Learn more about essential oils here.
What natural depression remedies do you use to help beat the blues?
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