For people who live in the northern hemisphere the winter blues is a very real, and in some cases, a very scary phenomenon. Most people have heard of the condition Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that is directly related to the change in seasons. Beginning for most people in the late fall and lasting all winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder can leave you feeling drained of all energy and incredibly down and moody. While not everyone is clinically diagnosed with SAD, many people suffer from a less severe, but no less life affecting, version that many people call the winter blues.
The reason for the this drastic change in your mood is attributed in part to the decrease in sunlight that we are exposed to the in the fall and winter months. Sunlight is necessary for our body to make a neurotransmitter known as serotonin. This chemical is responsible for regulating our moods and making us feel “happy”. In turn sunlight also causes our body to suppress melatonin production (the chemical that helps us sleep). Due to a reduction in sunlight exposure many people often complain of fatigue (which leads to increased depressive symptoms) due to an increase in melatonin production.
The winter months also lead many of us to instinctively “hibernate” for the season. This strong urge coupled with unfavourable weather conditions can lead to people feeling isolated and alone. Trapped in a dark, cold life for what feels like unending months. While this works for animals, humans still have to go to work, make dinner, do laundry, run errands and play with our kids.
Winter is Coming
Last year was a very difficult winter for the people of southern Ontario. It was terribly cold and dark. We alternated between ice rain and snow leaving the outdoors an unmanageable, slippery death zone of sheets of ice covered in dustings of snow. Our family didn’t go winter hiking once last year. It was simply too dangerous. There have been rumours circulating that we are in for a similar winter this year.
Emotionally I found last winter an extremely difficult time. One of the darkest of my life. As a person who is no stranger to depression (including postpartum depression) I often fear the arrival of winter. When I started feeling down at the beginning of November I knew I would need to be proactive to avoid the same situation as last year. This year is complicated further by the fact that our family has recently sold our second vehicle. My husband is a supply teacher which means he has the car five days a week, leaving me trapped at home with a toddler every day!
How to Beat the Winter Blues and Treat SAD Naturally
What a good question! That’s the conundrum I hope to tackle this year. Here are some of the ideas and plans I have to help me combat my own case of the winter blues/ SAD.
- Freezer meals
- Herbal tincture treatments
- Bach Flower remedies
- Light therapy
- Projects and Goals
Since this is a very prevalent presence in my life I will continue to blog about my journey. Join me as I navigate the dark of winter.