Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is more than just the “Winter Blues.” It is a form of seasonal or temporal depression that typically affects people during the winter months of longer nights and less sunlight. If you suffer from SAD, there are many alternative therapies that can naturally help you improve your mood and reduce depressive symptoms, even if you already use a light box for treatment.
- Improve your mood with food. Certain foods have proven relationships to brain function. Healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and lean protein are essential parts of a healthy diet that can also improve your mood. Snack on nuts or dark chocolate, feast on turkey or salmon with a spinach and quinoa salad, add colorful vegetables to everything, eat fruit for breakfast, and drink your milk for a happier mood in no time!
- Boost happiness with exercise. Physical activity – both cardio and weight or resistance training – helps tell your brain to produce feel-good chemicals and hormones. These chemicals help regulate mood, boost energy levels, and improve feelings of contentment. Working out on a regular basis can help give your brain a steady supply of feel-good chemicals to keep you happy all winter long.
- Try aromatherapy. Scents can have a powerful effect on brain function, promoting positive thinking or pleasant memories, easing tension and reducing anxiety or frustration, calming your mind and promoting clear thinking or restful sleep. Different scents may have different stimulating effects on your thought process, so consult a professional to get the most benefit out of your aromatherapy.
- Consult an acupuncturist. This ancient treatment has been used to heal mental and physical ailments and is rapidly gaining popularity in Western cultures. Professional acupuncture sessions can help release tension, relieve anxiety, and stimulate feelings of peace and clarity.
- Hop in the water. Hydrotherapy is an alternative or complementary treatment for depressive symptoms. Hot tubs, pools, and even jet-massage tubs can help provide stress relief and boost energy levels. So take a bath, a swim, or sign up for some professional hydrotherapy to reap the benefits of good old H2O.
- Start a journal. Writing about your feelings or experiences just a few times a week during your SAD months may help reduce depressive symptoms. Experts believe that working through your emotions and channeling your thoughts through a diary or journal can help you cope with the change in your brain’s chemical processes.
- Go outside! Light is a key factor in reducing symptoms of SAD – that is why the primary treatment for SAD involves light therapy. To boost your chances of reducing feelings of depression, up your intake of natural light by taking a walk during lunchtime or exercising outside on the weekends.
- Talk it out. To further relieve feelings of depression and sadness during the winter months, try talking about it. Most people are willing to lend support to their loved ones who are suffering, so reach out to your friends and family and let them know what you are experiencing. Sometimes just letting others know about your pain or unhappiness can help reduce the mental burden you are carrying. If you do not want to discuss your feelings with people who are close to you, consider counseling sessions or group therapy, where you will have the opportunity to share your experiences with other who know exactly how you feel.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a challenging condition, but it does not have to ruin your entire season. By taking these steps to make positive lifestyle changes and complementing your traditional light therapy treatments, you will be giving yourself the best possible chance at beating your disorder and escaping the symptoms of SAD.
Author Bio: Katie Brind’Amour is a freelance writer who loves to share information about health and wellness. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. She has a masters in Biology and is currently pursuing a PhD in Health Services Management and Policy. In her spare time, she works on her personal blog and dreams of writing the perfect historical novel.