November 6, 2017 in Mental Health
Fatigue. Irritability. Oversleeping. Weight gain. Poor concentration. Ever notice any of these symptoms over the Autumn and Winter months? There's a chance you might be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Did you know that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is categorized as a type of depression linked to the changes in seasons, which is particularly more prevalent during the fall and winter months? It's been estimated that between 2-3% of Canadians will experience SAD at some point in their lifetime.
Should you notice any of these changes in your lifestyle however, take comfort in knowing that there are measures you can take to help you beat feeling "the winter blues".
Consider these options:
- Get outside: Get as much sunlight as possible! Go for a 15 minute walk and take advantage of the crisp, fresh air before winter arrives. A walk outdoors can definitely help in lifting up your spirits and clear your head. Consider setting a footstep goal everyday, and track your progress. This should help encourage you to get consciously moving actively.
- Vitamin D: To extend the getting outside component, you want to make sure that you expose some of your skin (when it's not too cold!) to direct sunlight for a nice dose of vitamin D. Too cold for this? Consider taking an oral supplement to make sure your vitamin D stores aren't completely depleted through these months.
- Eat better: The food you eat has a direct correlation between how your body and your mind feels. Serve your meals with a healthy side dish, using produce that are in season, like beets, brussels sprouts, squash and leafy greens. Focus on warm, cooked foods (think soups, stews, bone broths - anything you can throw in the slow cooker) and avoid cold, raw foods which can be harder to digest which can take a hit on your immune system.
- Journal: Writing can be cathartic process. Expressing your thoughts through writing creates an emotional release, which helps relieve anxiety. The act of writing allows you to process information, reating self-awareness which allows you to reflect on, and evaluate your feelings. It's also a great way to document your mind frame and habits.
- Boost your immune system: This time of year is when your immune system takes a big hit and you are most vulnerable to illness. Strengthen your immune system by maintaining proper nutrition, bundling up when heading outdoors (especially protecting your "wind gate" aka. neck!) and staying hydrated. If you know you always get sick this time of year, consider a visit with your ND to get recommendations for supplements and botanicals specific for you.
- Seek help: A change in behaviour, sleep pattern, energy level, diet, or general lack of interest in activities you otherwise normally enjoy, may be indicative symptoms of SAD. Speak to your doctor and inquire about the various treatments and resources available to you.