Daylight savings has come to an end and the days are becoming shorter. For some, the cool, dark days of late fall and winter is a dreadful time of year, bringing on feelings of sadness, fatigue, lack of energy and motivation, and feelings of withdrawal, signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
How can we be proactive and keep our bright smiles going?
- Since melatonin and serotonin levels are what are affected this time of year, focus on going to bed at the right time and getting enough sleep. If you have to get up during then night, do not turn on the lights, as this can also affect the levels of these neurotransmitters, and ultimately, your sleep and mood.
- Exercise regularly with some great music. It is a great and natural way to increase the secretion of those feel good endorphins.
- Eat a nutrient-rich well balanced diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, omega fatty acids and B-vitamins, all essential in our overall health. Omega-3’s and B-vitamins are essential in regulating hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Try to avoid excess alcohol consumption because it can worsen depression.
- Get as much natural light as possible. Even on cold, cloudy days it is beneficial for our brains to get outside and go for a quick brisk walk.
- Consider sitting in front of a light box for a few minutes every day.
- Stay social. No matter how much you may want to keep to yourself, fight the urge and meet up with friends. Good company and good laughter are always great mood lifters.
- Stay on top of your vitamin D. Research shows that as vitamin levels decrease during this time of year so do our moods. Especially worth mentioning, is the link between low vitamin D and weakened immune system and cancer.
If you still feel like you need more of a lift, supplements and herbs geared towards balancing serotonin and melatonin, improving sleep and uplifting your mood are a great addition in holding on to that feeling of joy.
Do not dismiss your mental and emotional well-being. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression and is a serious illness that affects approximately 19 million Americans. Looking after your health is just as important as looking after the health of your family. Seek help if your depression persists and interferes with your ability to enjoy life.