Tips to counteract seasonal affective disorder + Improve Mood Naturally January 28 2016


This time of year the days are shorter, the air has a frosty bite to it, and our exposure to the bright, warm, mood-lifting sunshine is at it's lowest, especially if you're living in Canada or in the Northern Hemisphere. This can have a profound effect on our mood, sometimes leading to Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known more casually as the "winter blues". Symptoms include depression, low energy, headaches, moodiness, irritability, and weight gain or loss. Luckily there are some preventative measures you can take to decrease this season's effect on your mood and health and increase the ability to be just as happy in the winter as you may be in the middle of summer! Here are some tips on how to love winter and start looking on the brighter side of the season:

Vitamin D
Supplementing with a good quality vitamin D supplement in the winter months (starting at the end of summer and leading up to the autumn months is best) is essential for most, if not all, Canadians. We need the sun directly on our skin in order for Vitamin D to synthesize in our bodies, but when our bodies are covered up in jackets, hats and gloves, our skin is getting little to no sun exposure for months at a time.  The angle of the sun changes such that no matter how sunny our days are, your body is unable to make vitamin D through the sun's rays. If you choose to supplement, make sure you're getting the D3 form (vs. D2) as it's more absorbable in our bodies. Take it with a fat-containing meal to further ensure absorption. 

Get outside and Get Moving
Although the angle of the sun this time of year isn't conducive to the type of sun exposure we need to create vitamin D, it's still important to get outside when you can, especially on those crisp and sunny winter days. Fresh air and exercise
 can do wonders for our mood. It's easy to stay inside all winter and get stuck in a rut but it's important to get outside and get your circulation flowing. Obviously it's important to stay warm so be sure to bundle up and get outside for a walk on a nice clear day and try to point out the things that you DO love about winter: the diamond-like snowflakes falling to the ground, the peace and quiet of nature. Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing are both great acitivities to take part in this time of year for some exersize and as an excuse to get into nature. If it's too cold on a particular day to get outside, head to your local indoor botanical gardens to admire some tropical flowers in a humid, moist environment. You can also try practising some yoga postures near a window in your home, or attend a hot yoga class. It's a great way to get moving without having to brave the colder and gloomier days of winter!

Light Therapy
If you're able to make the investment in a light therapy box, it's known to be quite effective in quelling some of the sadness and low moods associated with lack of sun exposure in winter. As little as 30 minutes a day of exposure to a "light box" with 10,000 lux of high-intensity light can make a big difference. There are some light boxes available on the market that you can set to gradually turn on in the morning, helping you to wake up naturally to some light, especially if you have to get up before 7am in the morning when it can still be pitch black outside. 

Essential oils + Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy can be so helpful in improving the mood and uplifting the spirit. Lemon, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange, Clary Sage, and Rosemary are wonderful for enhancing mood and increasing circulation to the brain. Have a bath to warm up and add some of these oils into the water, or add a few drops to an essential oil diffuser if you have one. You can even dab a small amount under your nose in the morning to get your day started off on a pleasant note. At Province we carry some wonderful therapeutic roll ons, in particular our 'Uplift' roll-on, which is an invigorating blend of essential oils formulated to enhance the mood. 



Furthermore, we offer custom aromatherapy facials which provide a great way to treat yourself, take care of your skin and body, and just relax. We're here for you whenever you need a little extra love! You can book appointments with our wonderful holistic aestheticians by clicking here!

Herbs
Check with your doctor before starting on an herbal regiment but working certain herbs into your daily routine can be very helpful in balancing out the mood and reducing stress and anxiety. Herbs that support the nervous and endocrine systems and may help to prevent and lessen the symptoms of SAD include ashwaghanda, lemon balm, St John's Wort, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and Schisandra berry. Most of these are quite safe for people to use, such as lemon balm or holy basil, but those on anti-depressant medication such as SSRI's should avoid St. John's Wort as it is contraindicated. If this is something you are able to add into your life however, it can be very helpful in regulating and boosting mild depression and low mood.

Additionally, swapping your daily coffee boost for teas that will support your nervous system and help promote energy naturally is a great simple step to take. Getting hooked and reliant on coffee tends to wreak haywire on the nervous system leading to unnecessary anxiety and feelings of nervousness and fear. Check out our upcoming post on how to reduce your intake of coffee if you need a little help kicking the habit.

Self care
Using the tips above and simply making a point of loving and appreciating yourself everyday is vital for mental health and wellness. Take these winter months to look inward and enjoy the slower, quieter season before the often busy summertime months come around. Take advantage of the time spent inside to develop a hobby or read a book that you've been meaning to get around to. 

If you have any questions or tips on what helps you get through the winter months, feel free to comment below! We'd love to hear what you think.

Hang in there, the summertime sun is on it's way!

Stay Well,
Whitney xo

*top image via Sarah Illenberger, click the image to view it's source
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