With the dark days of winter, do you feel sluggish or have difficulty waking up in the morning? Are you tempted to snack more? Do you find it harder to focus? Do you feel down or even depressed more often than usual? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be one of the millions of people who suffer from the lack of light and, more specifically, from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Here are a few concrete ways to combat SAD:
- Try to go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on bright days; take a few minutes to breath deeply, take some of the sun light, fill your whole body with earth’s energy.
- Bring more lamps into your house and/or work place and see if there is a way to rearrange the rooms so that they can receive more sunlight. Sit near windows whenever you can. It is also recommended to choose pale colors that reflect light from outside.
- If you know that the lack of light is a serious handicap for you, consider buying a “light box”, the most commonly used (and most successful) method for administering light therapy. It is usually recommended that you sit in front of the light box between twenty and ninety minutes each day, as early in the morning as possible.
There is growing evidence that regular exercises has a beneficial effect on mood control, hence to beat the winter blues, specially if you can exercise outside. Anything that keeps the body active through the winter months will help you feel more upbeat. Research has shown that an hour’s walk in winter sunlight was as effective as two and a half-hours under bright artificial light.
People with SAD often crave comfort food (such as cookies) rich in carbohydrates. The problem is that the result is very short term and that you may feel even worse afterwards. Instead, eat protein-rich food such as eggs and fish, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and make sure that you eat as balanced as possible. A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and prevent you from putting on weight over winter. Herbs and vitamins (in particular vitamins B1 and D) as well as omega-3 acids are also recommended.
It is important to note that none of these approaches replace professional help, for instance in the forms of psychotherapy or antidepressant medications, in particular in the case of depression which is a serious condition. Never hesitate to talk to your physician about your symptoms.
Next post will suggest alternative approaches that rely more on the mind and spirit.
We want to hear from you: Tell us what your strategies are to combat winter blues. Leave us a comment below.
Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, Winter Blues: Everything you need to know to beat seasonal affective disorder, New York: The Guilford Press, 2006.
The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (UK)
Béatrice | Contemporary Shamanic Healer
Allowing The Light
I am fortunate to live in So Arizona, where we have sunshine almost every day. Since living here, my SADD symptoms have mostly disappeared. Being outside often during the day really helps me, and going out on ‘photo safaris’ into Nature on weekends brings an added bonus of regeneration as well as absorbing more light.
Indeed… So glad that you can enjoy Arizona light Ruth! The Light is an amazing powerful ally on this journey, including our inner light…
I use Verilux light bulbs any place in the house where we spend much time – like over my computer area, the lamp on my desk, over the kitchen sink, next to chairs where we sit frequently. The bulbs are a little pricey $9-12 but they last a really long time and give off a full spectrum light. Works really well for me.
Also, Verilux makes a “happy Light” which I have next to the computer.
Verilux has periodic sales if you get on their mailing list.
Thanks for your great article – this is a problem for so many people that is often unrecognized, as you suggested.
My Verilus happy light is on right now on my desk… I highly recommend it to anyone who tends to be affected by SADD. It does not replace going out if we can but it really helps! Thanks for the recommendation Alison!