How to combat seasonal affective disorder
Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with these practical tips.
Your guide to beating SAD
As the days grow shorter and colder (read: frigid) temps set in, many of us find ourselves caught in the grip of seasonal affective disorder. Also known as SAD, this condition can make winter feel like a never-ending battle against the blues.
If you yearn for more sunlight during the cold months—or often feel your energy levels plummet as the sun sets early—you're not alone. In fact, you’re in cozy company. With December underway, we're exploring relatable and practical tips to help you combat SAD. Reclaim your joy and well-being in the midst of winter's chill. Because yes, it’s possible. Time to make the most of the season ahead.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
SAD is a form of depression. And it typically occurs during the fall and winter months (i.e. when sunlight dwindles). The reduced exposure to natural light can disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of sadness and low energy. In essence, it’s primarily caused by a combination of factors, related to changes in light exposure.
With a decrease in natural sunlight, our circadian rhythms shift, dropping our serotonin levels—the neurotransmitter that mediates satisfaction, happiness, and optimism. When serotonin decreases, it’s no surprise that joy takes a hit. Additionally, reduced light exposure can trigger an increase in the production of melatonin (our hormone that regulates sleep, lethargy, and drowsiness).
In that sense, winter is a double-whammy. The lack of sunlight, coupled with a decrease in serotonin and an increase in melatonin, contributes to the symptoms of SAD: feelings of depression, low energy, and mood fluctuations. Fortunately, not all hope is lost.
8 practical ways to beat the winter blues
This goes without saying, but everyone's experience with SAD is unique. It's essential to find the strategies that work best for you—be patient as you experiment!
- Utilize light therapy. Invest in a light therapy box, which mimics natural sunlight and helps regulate your body's internal clock. Try to spend 20-30 minutes in front of the box each morning
- Get moving. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Don’t underestimate a short walk or an efficient at-home home workout. Dance cardio, anyone? Movement makes a significant difference in your overall well-being
- Use essential oils. Yes, several essential oils are known for their mood-boosting properties! A few favorites: citrus (lemon, orange, and grapefruit—uplifting and energizing), peppermint (refreshing and invigorating), eucalyptus (especially helpful if you’re feeling congested or fatigued), ylang-ylang (sweet and floral to help promote feelings of joy), and bergamot (its citrusy scent can help reduce anxiety)
- Hone in on your sleep hygiene. Ensure you're getting enough sleep and establish a regular sleep routine. A consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your energy.
- Stay social. While the colder months may tempt you to hibernate, try not to isolate yourself. Make plans to see friends and loved ones, even if it's just a cozy night in with a movie.
- Find joy in winter activities. Engage in winter-themed activities—using the sauna, ice skating, making homemade candles, brewing a cup of hot cocoa, etc. Embracing the season can help shift your perspective.
- Warm up your space. Add cozy blankets, non-toxic candles, and a welcoming atmosphere to your home. A comfortable environment is a sanctuary during the winter months.
- Plan ahead. Set goals and plan future projects. Having something to look forward to (like spring gardening) can combat the feeling of being stuck. Plan activities, trips, or personal projects to keep your spirits high.
If SAD is affecting your daily life, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor. Talking to a professional can provide valuable tools to cope with seasonal challenges.
Our very own magnesium—beeyavibe
One of our favorite ways to support our mood and sleep through the winter months is with a high quality magnesium, like beeya vibe! Our bio-available, triple-blend magnesium is the perfect way to end winter days. You can simply stir it into a glass of water, or you can pair it with one of our tasty mocktail recipes. Magnesium has so many amazing benefits including support for sleep, brain health, heart health, blood sugar, hormones, gut, skin, and the list frankly goes on and on. Magnesium anyone?
Some of our favorites from the week
We’ve been swapping out evening wine for this magnesium mocktail all Sleepytime Mocktail all week.
Here’s another mocktail on rotation – Lemon Berry Nosecco. None of the alcohol, all of the fun.
Get your vitamin D
Another nutrient to focus on this winter is vitamin D. No matter the season, it’s important to keep your vitamin D levels within normal range. But especially during the winter, adequate vitamin D is crucial. Because of decreased sunlight exposure—which is the primary natural source of this essential nutrient—it’s easy for vitamin D levels to drop.
In turn, a deficiency can weaken the immune system, cause hormonal imbalances, compromise bone health, and even contribute to seasonal affective disorder. So, what can you do? Support your body’s defense system with a high-quality vitamin D/K2 supplement, along with foods that contain vitamin D: fatty fish, cod liver oil, pastured egg yolks, mushrooms, beef liver, and organic dairy. Always talk to your doctor before supplementing and test your levels. It’s important to know where you stand.
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