For many people, the holidays and seasons changing bring immense joy but for some, this time of year can bring stress, hardship, and even sadness.
Many individuals experience seasonal depression or what’s referred to as seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. Seasonal depression is mainly brought on by the fact that there’s less light during the day along with the cold weather. Many cities have stay-at-home orders in place or people are quarantining for other health reasons but being forced to stay inside with little time to soak up the sunlight, can make SAD even worse. Whether you’re experiencing SAD or just have a touch of the winter blues, we want to help with tips on how to help with the cold weather funk and ways to practice self-care.
SIGNS YOU MAY HAVE S.A.D
It’s important to differentiate between seasonal depression and the occasional winter blues. If you’re wondering if SAD might be getting you down, here are some signs that you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
- Feeling hopeless, guilty, or even depressed
It’s normal to have bad days, however, if you are experiencing these feelings for days on end, make sure you reach out to a doctor and seek help in addition to practicing self-care.
BENEFITS OF SLOWING DOWN
With the holidays upon us it’s easy to get burnt out and overwhelmed with too many tasks. You may find yourself creating daily to-do lists that feel like they’re impossible to complete. Even though it’s easy to get bogged down with your day-to-day tasks, don’t forget to take a moment to breathe. Carve out time to not only check-in with yourself but to also practice some self-love. This can include sitting outside and observing nature, lounging around and reading a book, or practicing yoga or meditation. Did you know that yoga and meditation can affect how you cope with anxiety and stress and is beneficial to your overall mood? Both practices can modulate your stress response system and help counteract the chronic stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (our relaxation response), and create a calm and relaxed mind.
One thing you want to stay away from when trying to relax and destress is electronic devices. Screen time, especially in the evening, can negatively affect your circadian rhythm and trick your body into thinking it needs to stay awake which is why it’s important to step away.
BENEFITS OF WARM FOOD & DRINKS
With the weather cooling down, we're often opting for warm foods like soup and tea. But did you know that this can actually benefit your overall health? Warm foods can be better for your overall digestion than cold food! Cold food can shock the body and force your digestive system into working harder. Whereas warmer food actually forces you to slow down. Cooked foods such as cooked vegetables break down more making them gentler on your digestive system. Keeping your digestive system in mind is important as your gut health has an impact on your brain and thus your overall mood.
There are plenty of warm foods to enjoy as the temperatures cool down. Cozy up to some homemade soup such as butternut squash soup, tomato soup, or classic chicken noodle soup. Other ideas include stew or chili. Make sure to check out our blog article on fall and winter seasonal foods to incorporate into your diet as well.
And don’t just stop at foods, warm beverages also count! Tea is a fantastic way to enjoy a warm beverage that also includes health benefits along with it. Different varieties of tea offer different benefits. Studies have shown that some varieties of tea can help with weight loss, diabetes, and lower cholesterol. One such tea is purple tea! Purple tea has the highest levels of antioxidants compared to both green tea and black tea which can support your immune system and is a must during the winter months. Check out our flavors here.
As we mentioned, one of the biggest factors of feeling down during the colder months is lack of light during the day. With the sun setting earlier, it can really throw off your schedule. That’s why it can be a good idea to start waking up earlier. Now that the sun rises earlier, our circadian rhythms have shifted which can affect our mood and sleep. Did you know that getting 10-15 minutes of sunlight in the mornings can help your circadian rhythm? A 2019 study found that exposure to morning sunlight can result in greater alertness and better sleep. If you have a hard time waking up early, try setting your alarm clock back in increments of 10 minutes each day. This will help you gradually get into a routine that won’t shock your body.
Another way to get the benefits of light exposure even when inside, is light therapy boxes. A light therapy box mimics the outdoor light that some researchers find can benefit your mood. Light boxes are used in the morning within the first hour of waking up. They’re best used at a distance and always avoid looking directly into the light. They range in different sizes to fit everyone's needs from alarm clocks to desk lamps. Check out this list of the best 2020 light therapy lamps. It is important to note that before looking into one, make sure you talk to a doctor as it can negatively affect some mental health disorders.
Follow us on social media to learn more about ways to live a happier and healthier life!