Written by my Spring 2017 apprentice, Ely C. Peña, this post discusses how to address and overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Winter is definitely here! Do you notice any physical and emotional changes as the seasons transition?
In my work, I often notice the changes that many women experience during the winter season – the high energy of summer and fall is long gone, fatigue and low moods are more common, our cravings are all over the place, and our skin is looking dull.
You ask yourself, is it the winter blues? It is most likely you’re feeling a little blue and your body and mind are simply asking for help. This feeling and the associated symptoms are often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Some women experience SAD as feeling tired, irritable, a lack of interest in daily activities, inability to concentrate, low sex drive, weight gain, etc. These changes can range from mild to severe, and have a significant impact on daily life. Symptoms vary seasonally and it is important to be honest with yourself about the underlying cause, understand that these changes vary from woman to woman, and start taking action now to mitigate their effects on your life.
The key to addressing Seasonal Affective Disorder is to start taking action now. As they say, if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready. Every season have a plan of action to help you navigate the seasonal transition. Through trial and error you will develop what works best for you during these seasonal changes. If you are starting to feel SAD aka Seasonal Affective Disorder, know that you can overcome this with simple steps and a loving attitude.
If you already know that you experience this shift during the transition from fall to winter, then I’ve got some amazing solutions for you.
Here are 7 steps to help you overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder:
#1 New season, new foods.
You no longer desire the cool drinks and ice cream. Start gradually meal planning for this season. Combine healthy warm foods that entice your taste buds. Have foods that are rich in nutrients (avoid the sugar) and chew more! Savor every bite and every flavor. Fall in love with your new menu. If you notice that you are feeling depleted, add a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement to your daily routine.
#2 Get some sunlight early in the morning.
Due to decreasing daylight we do not get to enjoy the sun as much. Try your best to get up 15-30 minutes earlier and incorporate some sun loving activities. For example: morning yoga, meditation, or walking.
#3 Enjoy the outdoors when you can.
During the winter season due to the cold weather we don’t want to go out as often. It’s cold, you have to wear a coat, and people are starting to get sick. The reasons are endless. Plan some fun dates with your friends, your man and even for yourself. Bundle up and enjoy the beauty of winter.
#4 Sleep earlier.
Hitting the sack a little earlier will help you, especially if you’re following Step 2. Going to bed earlier will improve your mood, immunity and productivity. You will wake up more relaxed and feel less tense throughout your day.
#5 Create a skin care ritual.
Exfoliate and moisturize. Pick what works best for you and your budget. Try your best and pick organic products but if you’re like me you’re in your kitchen mixing oatmeal, honey, and an oil of your choice. Dry brushing is great too. Remember to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
#6 Journal time.
If you feel like you are experiencing emotional, mental or physical changes during seasonal changes, start writing! I would personally suggest you keep two journals. One journal as your daily and gratitude journal and a second journal to write your feelings during seasonal changes. Write down your mood, the times you are experiencing these mood changes, and food cravings as well. Notice any patterns? Use this information to help you understand what you are going through and the necessary changes you need to make.
#7 Love more, stress less.
We all experience moments of ups and downs in our lives and loving yourself through these times is the best medicine. The idea is to be honest, express your emotions and try to always look at the positive. Sometimes we are our own worst critics, and we tend to bully ourselves too! Love yourself today and know that this journey called life is much easier when you’re working with your body rather than against it.
As the seasons become colder and darker, and you find yourself feeling a bit SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), please know it’s okay! Now you have a plan of action to start improving how you feel during this time of year.
Change your foods, get some sun, enjoy the outdoors, sleep earlier, create your skin care rituals, take time to journal, and love yourself. You are wonderful and beautiful just as you are.
Ely C. Peña is located in the Tri-State area and is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Certified Women’s Health Coach, and has training in Ayurveda, Herbalism, and Environmental Toxins. She works with women who want to improve their health and beauty holistically focusing on mind, body and emotions in a loving and confident way. Her purpose is also working with Latinas especially in the Caribbean to share the benefits of a holistic lifestyle. You can learn more about Ely on her website and feel inspired to live a healthier life by following her on Facebook.