Have you ever noticed yourself feeling particularly down and out in the fall and winter months?
If yes, it could be connected to SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. In fact, there are over 10 million Americans that are impacted by SAD each year. (1)
SAD is a type of depression that impacts people primarily in the fall and winter months. It’s associated with changing of the seasons – for most people its the impacts of the shorter, darker days and colder weather. (1)
What Are the Symptoms of SAD?
The symptoms of S.A.D. can vary depending on the person.
Many of the symptoms of S.A.D. are very similar to typical depression – however the main difference being that depressive symptoms of S.A.D. dissipate with the changing of the seasons (usually when the warmer weather arrives again) – where as in typical depression people are impacted year round.
It can take a few years to realize you have S.A.D. as you’ll need to notice the pattern of shifting moods coinciding with the changing of the seasons.
Some of the Symptoms of SAD Include:
- Feelings of sadness & moodiness
- Low energy
- Loss of concentration
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulties sleeping
- Weight change (gain or loss)
- And more
What Can You Do to Help Beat SAD?
Eat 3 Balanced Meals a Day:
Yes! Keeping your blood sugars balanced with 3 nourishing meals a day is a great place to start. Do your best to include lots of veggies, a protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats at as many meals as possible.
If you’re someone who regularly skips meals, do your best to try for all 3 (including a nourishing breakfast) for at least one week and see how you feel. You might be surprised just how much more grounded and energized you are!
Also do your best to keep foods like refined sugars, white refined grains, and processed foods like chips, crackers, and frozen meals to a minimum.
Include brain boosting foods often, such as:
- Fresh organic greens!
- Sauerkraut/ ferments
- Seeds/ nuts
- Beans/ legumes
- Fruit: frozen berries or apples, pears, & citrus
- Omega 3 foods
- Dark chocolate (70% or higher)
Try Light Therapy:
Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood, potentially easing SAD symptoms.
You can buy a special ‘light therapy lamp’ and expose yourself to it each day (duration depends on strength of light and individual needs) (3)
NOTE: light therapy is not for everyone so check with your health care practitioner before using
Incorporate Other Lifestyle Practices Such As:
Find what works for you – in whatever sort of activities you choose, just be sure they are enjoyable for you and your unique preferences!
Some of My Fave Practices Include:
- Yoga/ Meditation
- Things that make YOU happy!
- Cooking/ baking healthy treats
- Working with a nutritionist to ensure your diet is supporting your mental health (not detrimental to it)
- Seeking support from a therapist when needed
Get in Movement Daily:
Moving your body daily through some form of exercise can be very impactful for your mood and easing the feels of SAD!
Do your best to find forms of movement you love – so it feels enjoyable, not like a chore! Some ideas can include; walking, running, yoga, pilates, at home workouts with weights, joining a gym, skiing, hiking, swimming, etc.
If you have the means – exercising outside everyday (or as often as possible) is super beneficial! Being outside in nature, is so good for our mental health. One of the many reasons that being outside is so beneficial is that it exposes us to all sorts of different healthy bacteria that our microbiomes need to thrive! In turn, our microbiomes support our mental health through producing mood boosting neurotransmitters!
BONUS: Try cold dipping! If you live near a body of water that is safe and swimmable in the cooler months – cold dipping can be such a great boost for your mood (I know it sounds wild – but trust me on this one, it’s SO invigorating!). You can also try taking cold showers, although I personally don’t find those nearly as enjoyable or bearable!
Ensure Your Vitamin & Mineral Levels are in Check
As I talk about often – our brains need certain nutrients in order to thrive! If you are low in certain essential vitamins or minerals, it can definitely take a toll on your mental health and therefore could contribute to SAD.
During the fall and winter months for the majority of people it’ll be essential to supplement with vitamin D3.
It’s a great idea to get your blood levels tested to ensure you’ve got enough of all the important vitamins and minerals you need. For example, iron and magnesium are 2 nutrients that people are often deficient in that can be associated with mood related issues.
As you can see there are many ways to help beat S.A.D. this fall and winter season! It’s important to find things that make YOU feel good – and do them often!
I know the winter months can feel long and gruelling – but hang in there because there’s so much good to come from each season we go through!
If you’re looking for further support, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly here!