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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects many people during the fall and winter months. The shorter days and longer nights can disrupt the body's natural rhythms, leading to symptoms such as low mood, lack of energy, and difficulty sleeping. Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine from India, also emphasizes the importance of seasonal changes in health and well-being.
In the United States, 10% to 20% of the population have this disorder seasonally, while 0.5% to 2.4% experience it throughout their lifetime.
Although seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be a severe and incapacitating condition, various approaches and resources are available to assist individuals in overcoming it. In general, SAD may be broken down into two categories: winter and summer patterns. SAD during the summer affects around 10% of people with this disorder.
In Ayurveda, each season is associated with specific qualities and energies, and the seasonal regimen is designed to help balance these energies in the body. This article focuses on Ayurvedic recommendations for the winter season, which may be helpful for individuals experiencing SAD. By implementing these tactics into your daily routine, you can overcome them and regain your mood, energy, and general well-being.
Top 10 Ways to Deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Here are some ways that can help you deal with the winter blues. However, it's advised to speak with a healthcare professional before adding any new routine or supplement to your regimen.
1. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the most effective approaches for the seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers, are the chemicals that are released when you exercise. Even taking a daily stroll can help improve your mood and energy.
Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily and attempt to complete your outdoor workouts. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms can be alleviated with natural light and fresh air.
2. Improve Your Diet
Consuming food that is both healthful and well-balanced is another crucial aspect in the management of SAD. Your symptoms may become more severe, and you may have mood changes if you eat foods heavy in sugar and bad fats. Ayurveda recommends warm, nourishing foods such as soups, stews, and herbal teas during the fall and winter months to overcome seasonal depression.
Instead, focus on having foods abundant in vitamins and minerals, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Because low vitamin D levels are related to depression and seasonal affective disorder, you may want to consult your doctor to check your vitamin D levels. You can orally consume Vitamin D or have pills as per their recommendation.
3. Get More Sleep
It is essential to obtain sufficient rest since not getting enough sleep might worsen SAD symptoms. Aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night and stick to a regular sleeping pattern.
You should avoid using electronic devices such as phones and laptops for an hour or so before going to bed. It is believed that the blue light generated by these gadgets might make it difficult for you to sleep.
Camphor is an aromatic substance that is commonly used for medicinal purposes in traditional medicine practices such as Ayurveda. While there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that camphor can help promote good sleep, there is limited scientific evidence to support this claim.
Some studies have suggested that inhaling camphor oil may have a calming effect on the body and help to reduce anxiety and stress, which could potentially improve sleep quality.
If you are experiencing sleep difficulties, it is recommended to try other proven methods to improve sleep quality, such as establishing a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and creating a relaxing sleep environment. It is also advisable to speak with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment options.
4. Try Light Therapy
Light therapy, commonly known as "phototherapy," is a form of therapy for the seasonal affective disorder that involves exposure to artificial light. This kind of approach works by resetting the body’s circadian rhythm, which in turn may assist in controlling one's mood and energy levels.
Light therapy lamps are easily accessible and can be set up in the comfort of your own home. Because excessive exposure to artificial light might have adverse consequences for your health, it is essential to follow the guidelines of an expert professional.
5. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques
Worry and stress may worsen the symptoms of SAD. That is why it is essential to try out practical strategies to reduce stress levels in your life.
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation like meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises will help you feel less anxious and more calmer. These techniques can have a positive impact and make you feel much better. Try fitting some of these into your routine, even if it's only for a few minutes daily. Ayurveda recommends specific yoga asanas, such as the Sun Salutation, to stimulate the body and mind and meditation to calm the mind.
6. Socialize with People
Maintaining a solid support network is essential to prevent the symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder from worsening. You may feel more connected to others and lessen feelings of loneliness by engaging in activities such as volunteering, spending time with family and friends, or joining a support group. Do not hesitate to call out to the people around you for help if you have issues due to SAD.
7. Seek the Assistance of Professionals
If you have tried several self-care methods but are still having trouble with SAD, it may be time to seek the assistance of a trained expert.
A specialist in the field of mental health, such as a psychologist or therapist, may work with you to devise a treatment plan and provide you with the support and direction you need to overcome seasonal affective disorder.
8. Consider Vitamin Supplements from Natural Sources
It's important to note that there are many other vitamins and minerals found in food and that a well-balanced diet consisting of a variety of whole foods is generally the best way to obtain all the nutrients your body needs.
Some common vitamins found in food items include;
Vitamin A: Found in liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale, among others.
B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12): Found in whole grains, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, leafy greens, legumes, and fortified cereals, among others.
Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, among others.
Vitamin D: Found in fatty fish (such as salmon), fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals, among others. It can also be synthesized by the body when exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin E: Found in nuts and seeds (such as almonds and sunflower seeds), vegetable oils, and leafy greens, among others.
Vitamin K: Found in leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, and collards), broccoli, and brussels sprouts, among others.
Here are some common food sources of vitamin D:
Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, and mackerel are among the fish that are high in vitamin D. These fish are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to provide numerous health benefits.
Egg yolks: Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. While the amount of vitamin D in an egg yolk is not as high as some other foods, it is still a good source.
Fortified foods: Many food items, such as milk, orange juice, breakfast cereals, and yogurt, are fortified with vitamin D. Fortification is the process of adding nutrients to a food item that are not naturally present in significant amounts.
Mushrooms: Certain types of mushrooms, like shiitake mushrooms, are exposed to UV light during growth which increases the amount of vitamin D they contain.
Cod liver oil: Cod liver oil is a supplement that is high in both vitamin D and vitamin A. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is available in liquid form.
Certain nutrients have been shown to have a positive effect on mood. Talk to health professionals if you need help figuring out which, if any, dietary supplements might be appropriate for you.
9. Make an Uplifting Atmosphere Around Yourself with Mantras and prayers and Omkar Chanting
The surrounding environment may significantly influence your mood and general health. Defeating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is possible by cultivating an upbeat and encouraging atmosphere around yourself.
Put items around you that bring you joy, such as photographs of loved ones, copies of your favorite novels, and plants or flowers to decorate your home. Tune in to the music of divine omkar or any mantra that will divert your focus to positive energy from the universe.Try to limit the amount of time you spend in dim or congested environments.
Ambient lighting sometimes does wonders for your mood. That is why design office and living spaces that are well-lit, welcoming, and conducive to cultivating positive emotions.
10. Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is essential in managing SAD. Spending time doing things you like might help you feel less stressed and anxious by giving you a sense of accomplishment. Make an effort to include self-care activities in your daily routine. Some examples of these practices involve taking a bath to relax, reading a good book, or listening to music that you like.
Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic self-massage technique that involves massaging warm oil onto your body. This practice can help ground and calm the nervous system, which can be beneficial for those struggling with SAD. You can use sesame oil, which is warming and nourishing, during the fall and winter months.
Ayurveda Herbs for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Certain Ayurvedic herbs can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression, including ashwagandha, brahmi, licorice, amla, and Shatavari. These herbs can be taken as supplements.
Ashwagandha is known for its stress-reducing properties, while Brahmi and Shatavari are believed to enhance cognitive function and memory.
Mind Recharge, available on the Santhigram shop, is an Ayurvedic supplement that may help with seasonal depression.
Seasonal affective disorder is experienced by many individuals, primarily during the months of autumn and winter. The good news is that this illness can be treated with certain supplements and lifestyle changes.
You can conquer seasonal affective disorder and return to feeling like yourself if you know the triggers and take the necessary measures to overcome them.