Living up here in the Colorado mountains, every day is beautiful to me. The amazing blue skies dominate our year an average of 246 days! The snowy and rainy days do change moods anywhere from little lows to deep depression however. Unfortunately, these gloomier days can really affect some people. They can bring people down, making day to day activities feel like difficult chores, getting out the door is not so enticing, energy levels are low, and appetite goes up.
That melancholy mood people experience is actually a type of mild depression called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) according to the Mayo Clinic. SAD is related to the seasonal changes usually starting in the fall and continuing through early spring. It can last all year for those living in areas prone to rainy, overcast weather year-round. If not taken care of it can start to affect your overall health, especially cardiovascular health due to the decrease in activity.
There are traditional treatments like medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy, aka phototherapy, that can temporarily boost mood. There are also more natural remedies that are easier and more accessible and are shown to have just as much benefit. Below are a few suggestions to try, and enjoy!
Grab an Orange! When SAD comes on there is a heightened sensitivity to stress and impending doom or worry. Try grabbing an orange and peel it. Then take a few minutes to inhale the peels sweet calming scent. Aromatherapy experts say the aroma of orange peels reduces anxiety almost immediately. It also works when you’re under extreme stress like giving a speech in front of thousands of strangers! All Natural Remedies suggests boiling orange peels with your favorite whole spices, such as cinnamon and cloves to release the yummy, uplifting
Vitamin D… Our bodies depend on exposure to the sun to make vitamin D, a lack of the recommended amount of this nutrient is linked to increased fatigue, low moods, anxiety, and even muscle weakness and bone pain! Supplement your daily intake of vitamin D, specifically D3 which is most absorbable, with as much as 2,000 I.U. daily. (As with everything mentioned in this blog, if it is health related, please consult your health practitioner first.)
High-Carbs for breakfast. Besides upping your brains serotonin, sometimes known as the ‘happy hormone’, carbohydrates are said by researchers at MIT, after one week of carbs for breakfast the patients’ mood was considerably brighter. Try something yummy like pancakes, waffles, hash browns, or an apple pie muffin!
Low-Fat Foods This suggestion I read surprised me so I thought I would quote her. Stephanie Fulton, Ph.D. states, “Switching from foods high in saturated fat to low-fat versions, such as low-fat yogurt, milk, and cheese, reduces anxiety and the blues. The link? Saturated fat overloads your brain’s reward system, leading to a post-meal crash that makes you more prone to worry and depression. Eating less saturated fat normalizes your brain’s reward system, keeping your mood from going south.”…. So much for thinking comfort foods will fill the blues with fuzzy feelings;)
Hanging out with your good friends. Women who stay in close and regular contact with their girlfriends via social media or in person are less likely to experience SAD as well as other forms of depression. Hanging out with your girlfriends’ help you feel understood, and the connection to others is a basic human necessity.
Pets are another perfect perk up for low moods! Playing and cuddling with your pet for 10-15 minutes often throughout the day rushes oxytocin into your bloodstream and slows the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Playing with your pup, cat, you name it, also lowers your blood pressure and is said to improve overall health!
No matter what you do, take care of yourself so you can enjoy life. If you’re feeling low during the fall and winter months try one of the remedies I mentioned, but if nothing works go talk to a professional so a low mood doesn’t start to affect your physical health.