One thing I always notice this time of year is that people seem to be a little more SAD. Now I don’t mean sad in the traditional way, but I’m talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Don’t worry, I’m here to give you some SAD remedies that you can start implementing at home today!
SAD has many symptoms: Depression, Low Energy, Trouble Sleeping, Irritability. Does that sound like anyone you know? Doctors estimate that more than 10 million people will get hit with SAD this winter season. It usually starts in your 20s, and women are more likely than men to suffer from it, but really it can happen to anyone. And roughly 6% of those who show symptoms of SAD require hospitalization, so if you are really suffering you should go see a doctor.
But if you are looking for a home remedy, here are four ways that you can prevent getting SAD this winter season:
1. Maximize your exposure to sunlight year round. The sun signals to your body to make Vitamin D, which is essential in helping our bodies perform important functions and in maintaining bone health. Additionally, Vitamin D controls the expression of nearly 1000 genes. And importantly, the sun is the main source of Vitamin D3, which increases levels of “feel good” chemicals in the brain called dopamine and serotonin. So, getting enough Vitamin D helps to ward off depression and symptoms of SAD. Try to spend time some time outside in the sun every day, especially between the hours of 10 and 2. You should do this year round, as your body is able to make and store Vitamin D from sun exposure.
2. Take a Vitamin D3 supplement to make up for reduced sunlight exposure. Vitamin D is found in very few foods and mostly comes from the sunlight, which we get a lot less of in the winter. Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been linked to cancers, high blood pressure, depression and autoimmune diseases, as well as depression. To make sure I am getting enough, I take 4000 IU a day. Definitely get your levels checked by a doctor first, but supplementing can help keep your body healthy and strong.
3. Be chill with the cold. Yes that’s right, you should embrace the cold. Studies have shown that just by being in colder temperatures, your body ramps up its production of brown fat which is a metabolically active form of fat. Brown fat increases insulin sensitivity and speeds up your metabolism. It also burns calories as a means of stabilizing body temperature. So bundle up and get outside!
4. Do not skimp on exercise. Not only does exercise help to ramp up production of feel good endorphins in the brain, it also promotes neurogenesis, which is the process of creating new brain cells. There’s no known pharmaceutical on the planet that has as beneficial effect on brain health as exercise, so do as much of it as you can.
What are you doing to fight off SAD this winter? Share your SAD remedies in the comment section below!
Want to learn more about depression and how to alleviate it? Check out the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.
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