How I hung seasonal affective disorder in the back of my closet.
I love the quality of light when summer fades into fall. It’s as if the full beaming smile of summer sunlight relaxes into a golden grin. There is a charge in the air, of anticipating holidays and gatherings with friends. It is one of my favorite times of the year, but despite this, I seemed to have fallen into a funk. Nothing tangible, but a sort of gloom just settled and it was as if the golden light all around me wasn’t soaking in. I wasn’t as quick to make a joke, or laugh at one, wasn’t taking in my surroundings as intently as usual, and became sort of forgetful. In essence, I was all in my head.
I usually always wear bright colors and patterns. I have only one or two pieces of black clothing in my closet and so oddly what really made me realize I had stepped into this funk is when two days in a row I wore a black silk blouse…one that I hadn’t worn since my sisters funeral nearly two years prior.
Uh-oh, Was I depressed?
Driving home one night this week from a dinner, in the pitch black, I told my girls that it was straight to bed when we got home. It felt so late. I was so tired. I looked at the clock and it was only 6:47 pm. Pitch black at 6:47 pm. Then it hit me. I wasn’t getting all the sunlight I usually do, when the summer sunlight reaches its fingertips til past 8:30 pm.
The next day I made a point to not start my day at the computer, but to sit outside and drink tea with the sun on my face. I took frequent breaks to take sips of sunshine. I started going to bed and waking a bit earlier. I noticed my mood and energy improved almost immediately. I fall asleep faster now, wake up cheerful, and today have hung the black silk blouse in the back of the closet.
While what I experienced was not full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that occurs when the seasons change and the daylight hours grow shorter, it’s good to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms, and natural ways you can try to avoid seasonal mood changes.
1) Get Plenty of Sunshine
Not only does sunlight suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that is responsible for sleeping and waking, vitamin d has been shown time and time again to regulate serotonin and dopamine.
2) Fill your Life with Music
One Chinese study that music therapy alleviated the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
3) Eat Mindfully
SAD and binge eating has shown correlations in some studies. Choosing foods with intention gratitude and eating for physical rather than emotional nourishment are ways to eat mindfully
4) Vitamin D Supplementation
As mentioned, vitamin D is instrumental in regulating mood perhaps through its regulation of serotonin and dopamine. Ask your doctor about vitamin d testing and supplementation not only to prevent SAD but to maintain bone health, preserve cognitive function as well as cancer prevention.
5) Move Your Body
Walking, dancing, yoga, whatever your flavor, exercise has infinite benefits, and elevating mood and improving seasonal depression is just one of them.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.