So I had a momentary breakdown the other day. This is nothing new to me during the winter months. I am aware of this disruption in my sanity and do all I can to prevent it!
The winter blues.
We have officially entered the dark days of winter, and it's no surprise that, even though there are 3 major holidays and lots to be excited about in just over a month's time, many of us are affected. I am a self proclaimed "summer girl" and proud to admit it! With the shorter days and the annoying daylight savings time change, we are left with limited sunlight. Some have mild symptons, and others are severely affected by this lack of sunlight. They have even attached a name to it. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. How appropriate is that acronym?
So...are you SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder causes people with normal mental health throughout the year to experience feelings of depression during the winter months. Strangely, it occurs in some people during the summer months, which I don't understand at all, but this would be my husband. We have a great time openly displaying our enjoyment during our particularly beloved months, while the other person slips slowly into their blue funk.
Isn't marriage great?
Of course when anything is termed a "disorder" there is a prescription drug attached to it, and there are plenty. However, I would rather go natural myself.
Here are some suggestions that may help you if you find yourself feeling a little SAD:
Get enough sleep- Don't allow yourself to stay up late mindlessly watching tv, surfing the web or social media sites. It's easy to find yourself staying up, but you will feel so much better the next day if you are responsible and put yourself to bed!
Expose yourself to light as early as you can- Do not sleep in, (which will be easy if you were successful with #1) wake up early, open the blinds, or go outside as soon as possible.
Use a light lamp- This is a lamp that simulates the suns natural rays. It's best to use the lamp early in the morning for 30 minutes up to 2 hours at a time. The light from the lamp reduces the release of melatonin in the brain. Check it out here.
Exercise- Sometimes depression can come simply from not moving enough! One hour of aerobic exercise can be as effective as 2 1/2 hours of light treatment.
Take a vitamin D supplement- Adults can take 4-6000 IU's daily.
Force yourself outdoors in the afternoon- Midday light provides vitamin D to boost the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that is concerned with mood and emotions. Only 15 minutes of sun can make up to 10,000 IU's of vitamin D!
Watch your sugar intake- Addiction to sugar affects the same biochemical systems in your body as drugs like heroine. When seratonin levels are low, your body will crave carbs, especially high sugar foods like junk food and soda, because they raise seratonin levels. Especially during the Holidays, if you know you will be attending a party in the evening, eat only fruits, vegetables, and lean protein during the day. Not only will you benefit from the antioxidants, fiber, and protein, to fuel your body, but it will help to maintain a well balanced diet. (but once a week, feel free to have a piece of fudge for breakfast...I say)
Don't forget your Omega 3's- Studies show that Omega 3 fatty acids help with depression and many more conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Start a project- Find something to do, like paint a room in the house, or online scrap booking that will keep your mind busy and involved.
Take on a new challenge- Get involved in a local or online class, or learn to build a website, or learn how to work a miter saw...my personal favorite. :) Take up a new winter activity like cross country skiing, something that will give you a reason to look forward to winter, instead of dreading it.
Fly south- Why not plan your vacation to somewhere warm and sunny during the bleak days of winter? Even if it's to the tanning bed...I say.
Laughter- Sometimes nothing feels better! Watch your favorite funny movie, videos, or tv show. According to helpguide.org, laughter can boost the immune system, lower stress hormones, decrease pain, relax your muscles, and prevent heart disease! (My teenage boys are available, and very effective!)
Finally, give back- When we are busy serving and helping others, we are less inclined to be thinking about ourselves. Get outside yourself!
There ya have it! I feel fully equipped to handle this wintry cold weather now, don't you?
Keep this list tucked away until you need it, and until then...