We are in the dead of winter, and I don’t know about you…but this weather is getting to me. Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full swing it seems with a lot people out there. I wanted to share some tips on how to combat the lack of sunlight and, potentially, help boost your mood during the next couple of months.
Humans are social creatures. Our ancestors lived in extended-family groups all year long. But in our modern world, cold and gray winters can isolate us, and even more so with COVID. Too much isolation is a common depression trigger, and may be one contributing factor to Seasonal Affective Disorder. One option you could try if you are able is to choose to embrace the beauty of winter. Even in winter, you can get some fresh air, a little bit of sunshine, and quality time with loved ones. For me, personally, I love getting outside and enjoying the quiet of winter. Don’t get me wrong, I do struggle to get out the door, but once I am I really notice a difference in my mood. Some options you could consider if you bundle up are:
• Take a brisk morning walk
• Pursue a winter sport, like skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating (safely, obviously)
• Go sledding with your kids (safely, obviously)
• Take a nature hike by a river or other flowing body of water
Another option you could consider is increasing your tryptophan intake. The body uses tryptophan to help make melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin is thought to help regulate appetite, sleep, mood, and pain. Often times, most of us are going to work in the dark and going home in the dark. It can be strange for our biology. Pastured eggs, wild fish, seaweed, and spinach are good sources of tryptophan.
You can consider supplementing with Vitamin D3 and CBD Oil, which can both help improve mood and improve anxiety. This may sound strange coming from me, but increasing your carb intake could also help because carbs boost your serotonin synthesis. So, eat the cake, the bread, the brownies, or pasta, occasionally. But, still remember to eat real food during the week (good protein sources, vegetables, some fruits, nuts, and seeds).
***Shameless plug: Come get some acupuncture! It can improve your mood and increase your energy levels.***
Important note: Depression can be a serious, life-threatening illness. If you or someone you love is depressed, please seek help from a licensed professional. Do not stop taking antidepressants without the knowledge and support of your doctor, and never stop these types of medications cold turkey.