I’ve had SAD for decades. I can gauge the frequency of sun by the decline in my mood and enthusiasm, by the heaviness I might feel in my brain, and by increased agitation. By day three with no sun, the effects start to creep in. This also means that, for whatever reason, I may have missed a few days or pieces of my general wellness practice which involves exercise, energy routine, and meditation. Luckily I’ve got my sunlamp right on my desk, staring at me, supporting my brain in melatonin and serotonin production. I guess turning it on would help (insert smile). I also make sure to up my Vit D supplement and firm up anything missing in my wellness practice. It also helps me to recognize the stage I’m at and to take of myself with kindness. In a few days, I’ll be feeling much better.
My mindfulness and meditation practice certainly supports bouncing back into being myself again. Not rejecting how I feel but instead creating awareness and compassion around it. Sitting quietly, feeling my breath in the stillness, helps me to love my body and brain more instead of fighting and resisting what it’s doing. I love to visualize going into all of my cells to bring in light and freshness. I can also let myself cry if I need that release or give myself a hug. Whatever feels right, don’t you agree? Mindfulness and meditation also help to soothe the stress reactions that can appear with this low-grade sense of agitation - always a good thing. I can embrace myself just the way I am right now. By not rejecting my experience, I come closer to changing my situation with ease versus the personal rejection we often offer ourselves.
And while I’m simply sharing my experience, Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a world-renown psychiatrist who coined the term SAD, agrees. (More here.) He has researched the effects of meditation on SAD and has shown wonderful results. In addition to stimulating the pineal gland and releasing melatonin, meditation calms both the body and the mind, increasing the potential for happiness and satisfaction and decreasing stress response.
What are some other ways you can decrease the effects of SAD?
- Get direct sunlight or at least a sunlamp. 30 minutes a day will do wonders in putting that smile back on your face.
- Get outside and move the body. It’s great for stress, will keep you strong and healthy during the winter, adds fresh air, and all around feels great. Remember, there’s no such thing as poor weather, only poor clothing.
- Keep your nutrition clean and green. Skip the processed foods, heavy carbs, and sugars that we tend to crave more in the wintertime.
- Seek counsel if you need someone to talk to. Don’t “grin and bear it” on your own. Lots of folks are here to help.
- Contact your physician for a full check-up. Make sure there’s nothing else going on and that you get the necessary referrals and support. Talk about Vit D supplement, even if only in the winter time.
- Increase your skills around managing your stress. Need a good coach for that? I happen to know a great one.
While we may not be able to prevent SAD, I believe we can do a good job in decreasing the effects by being proactive. I know years ago it put me into deep winter depressions and now I recognize its onset as a few days of feeling off. My daily regiment, which includes many of the above, along with an energy medicine routine, have worked wonders.
So while this winter feels never ending, embrace all that you can. Soon enough it will all change with melting snow and blue skies.
With many blessings for peaceful days,
Need more support? Check out the upcoming Mindfulness & Meditation class or connect with me for personalized coaching.