How to fight seasonal depression naturally
It’s that time of year again. As the days get shorter and darker, many of us are starting to feel the effects of the winter blues. And with the pandemic keeping everyone at home more than usual, this year feels particularly daunting.
Some people have an official diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder triggering symptoms of depression, but so many others simply know they have a tendency to feel a little down during the chilly months. The darkness and isolation during the winter—especially in northern countries such as Canada—can cause fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating, among other symptoms.
If you are affected by the winter blues, these tips can help you combat the issue naturally.
Take vitamin D
Seasonal depression can sometimes be a symptom of low levels of vitamin D in your blood since vitamin D comes from sunlight. To stay on top of it, consider adding a daily vitamin D supplement to your family’s routine.
On a cold winter day, the last thing you likely want to do is strap on your boots and head outdoors—especially if you’re feeling seasonal malaise. However, spending time outdoors is a proven mood booster. Sunlight provides your body with an extra hit of vitamin D, and it also helps reset your internal sleep/wake cycle, which can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Try light therapy
Research shows that light therapy—aka phototherapy—is an effective natural treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Consider investing in a light therapy box, which emits fluorescent light that imitates the effect of sunlight on your body. Sitting in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day is proven to help the majority of adults who experience some form of seasonal blues.
Staying active is always tough in the winter, but it’s particularly tricky this year, with so many gyms closed due to the pandemic. However, exercise can make a significant impact on mental health, and it’s vital that you integrate it into your routine to combat seasonal depression. As the weather starts to cool down, make a plan to integrate 30 minutes of activity into your day 2-3 times a week. And remember, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy during the winter! Consider dusting off those cross-country skis in the garage, checking out a local outdoor skating rink, or even building a good old-fashioned snowman.
Don’t forget to socialize
We know that it’s also going to be a tough season for socializing. However, experts say that interacting with others is one of the best remedies for seasonal depression because it forces you to expand your attention and thoughts beyond yourself. As the temperature drops, schedule meetups with family and friends to spend time together regularly in a socially distanced way. Events could include virtual chats, winter walks, or other safe outdoor activities. And remember, your family and friends could be suffering from the winter blues too—so show them some love!