When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2015 I was all smiles. As a Georgia girl raised on years of eternal sunshine, I thought nothing of the winter ahead. As darkness increased and precipitation began, I noticed I felt more sluggish and a bit less enthusiastic about the days ahead. After speaking with others in the area, I learned I was experiencing symptoms of winter depression.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, between 4 and 6 percent of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Between 10 and 20 percent exhibit a milder form of SAD. The cause of SAD is unknown but a link between overproduction of the hormone melatonin, low Vitamin D, or difficulty regulating key neurotransmitters involved in mood may be responsible. Below, I’ve listed natural tricks that can help you embrace and enjoy the winter gray until the sun returns.
Music: For centuries the magical properties of music have been appreciated. Sound has the ability to lift our spirits, shift our perspectives and boost creativity. While you are taking in the gray skies, tune in to your favorite melodies and dance the day away.
Learn a hobby: Winter is the perfect time to focus on a new hobby and practice creativity. Take a class to get instruction in a social setting or pick up a book at Goodwill and teach yourself.
Mini lights: I can think of no better way to embrace the gray and rain than with mini lights. Mini lights are an excellent option for brightening your space and adding an enchanting vibe. Discounted Christmas lights which can be plugged in indoors or outside work just as well. I say, light it up.
Light therapy: The winter months are draining. Daily exposure to bright artificial light can help relieve your winter blues. Purchasing a light box or replacing lamp bulbs with grow lights will illuminate your life in positive ways. Mimic the sun: a sunrise clock which simulates sunrise and sunset can help keep your circadian rhythm in sync.
Exercise: Feeling sluggish, sleepy and down are hallmarks of the winter season. Exercising regularly in the winter is a great way to stay healthy, boost mood and keep you energized.
Indoor Gardening: Indoor plants provide an enchanting escape from the cold and rain. Try purchasing easy to care for plants like pothos, and grape ivy, which cleanse the air and provide beautiful cascading foliage.
Consider Cannabis: For centuries cannabis has been used in a variety of forms to alleviate stress, increase happiness and ease anxiety.
Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness and showing gratitude each day, especially when you are feeling down, can help refocus your thoughts and encourage a positive outlook.
Balanced diet: During the winter our bodies naturally crave more carbohydrates and sugar. Make sure to incorporate vegetables, fruits and foods rich in vitamin D to stay healthy.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful winter.
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