6 Natural Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

natural ways to beat the winter blues

Growing up in California I could never get enough sun!!  I’d be outside right after breakfast and wouldn’t come back in until the sun went down.  Even now, as I look out my window at the gloomy, chilly, January day, I feel all warm and tingly inside just thinking about lying in the sand with the sun warming my skin.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!

I had no problems at all with seasonal depression until I moved to Utah.  Most people unknowingly think the North Pole is the Arctic region of the world, but it’s not.  It’s Northern Utah.  And of course, Idaho too, because anyone that’s ever lived here knows the wind chill can compete with any harsh, frozen climate of the arctic.  Just ask my family who visits from California every winter with only hoodies to keep them warm.  They never learn.

For years I struggled with seasonal depression.  It would usually start soon after Christmas, about this time, and last until Spring- when I could finally get out and get some desperately needed sun!  Every fall I would actually have anxiety knowing what was coming- the gloominess, the cold, the lack of sun.  Winter was the most difficult time of the year for me, and for those around me.

As I have gotten older I have gained the skills and tools to help treat and prevent seasonal depression.  One of the most critical things I have learned in treating seasonal depression is to start early and hit it hard.  Depression is one of those things that when it takes control, it’s impossible to get out of the downward spiral without help.  So treat it early and treat it hard.

 

1.  Regular exercise

We all know the countless benefits from exercising.  However, knowing something is good for you doesn’t always mean we do it, right?  Exercise is one of those things you have to fake it till you make it.  Once you get into the habit, it’s hard to go without it.  I have found that if I put on my exercise clothes AND SHOES first thing in the morning, even if at first I don’t feel like exercising, I actually start to feel that I want to- just by wearing different clothes.  It’s weird, I know, but it works for me.  Find something that works for you and make it a priority.

 

2.  Nutrition & Diet

Along with maintaining a healthy, natural diet, taking a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement will help your body get the nutrition it needs to feel it’s best through the winter.  Other nutritional supplements that would be beneficial are:

  • B vitamins– Increasing your B vitamins from a quality B-Complex will help boost your mood and support your adrenals, which helps to lessen stress.
  • Vitamin D– Taking a daily supplement of at least 2,000 IU’s of vitamin D will help counteract the deficiency we get in winter with less sun.
  • Vitamin C– Boosting your intake of vitamin C can increase immune function and help to regulate levels of the hormone serotonin, which plays an important role in our mood levels.  Opt for food-based sources of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, kiwis, peppers, melon, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and dark green leafy vegetables, or add a supplement of at least 500 mg three to four times a day.
  • Cod Liver Oil– Not only is CLO a good source of vitamin D but it’s also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which helps relieve symptoms of depression as well as help maintain healthy levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin.  You can read more about this here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/cod-liver-oil-basics-and-recommendations/

 

3.  Essential Oils

I have found essential oils to be the quickest mood lifter I know!  When you use good, quality oils, not only are you getting all the amazing therapeutic properties, but the aroma from the oils actually stimulate regions in the brain, including those controlling endocrine, immune, and emotional centers, helping to balance and lift your mood.  You can add a few drops of essential oils to your bath water, diffuser, wax warmer, or aroma lamp.  The oil blends and singles listed below are ones that I like to use when I’m feeling down.

Oil Blends: Citrus Bliss (DoTerra), Grateful Heart (Butterfly Express), Heart Song (Butterfly Express), Whispering Hope (Butterfly Express), Vitality (Butterfly Express)

Oil Singles: bergamot, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lime, mandarin, neroli, orange, rose, and ylang ylang

 

4.  Light therapy

Lack of sunlight in the winter months affects our melatonin and serotonin levels, both of which affects our mood.  By taking advantage of light exposure- either by going outside or using a light therapy box, you can help to increase serotonin levels and balance your mood.  I know, it’s sometimes difficult to go outside when it’s 4 degrees out, but anything helps- a short walk, taking your time getting the mail, even sitting by a large window reading a book.  Most of the time if you go out when you don’t feel like it, you’ll be glad you did.

 

5.  Thought induction or psychotherapy

Although much of seasonal depression involves a change the body’s brain chemistry, activities that focus on increasing positive mood and behavior do help.  Find something you enjoy and do it- even if you don’t feel like it!  It could be as simple as playing a game, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal or writing a blog.  I find that keeping a gratitude journal by writing down things I am grateful for is a great way to keep my thoughts focused on the positive.  I like to take this a step further and try to feel the gratitude as I am writing by asking myself, “how would it feel to be grateful for _______ ?”  This helps me to find gratitude even in the hard things, and helps me see things from a different perspective.

Books are an excellent way to keep your mind busy while helping to change negative thought processes.  Two of my favorite books for this are:

  • Feeling Good- The new mood therapy, By David Burns
  • You can be happy no matter what, by Richard Carlson

Learning something new is a great way to focus your thoughts on something productive.  I’m sure there are community events where you live that have activities through the winter to keep you busy.  If not, there’s always YouTube!

 

6.  Have something to look forward to

This is actually a huge one for me!  I love going places and spending time with the people I love!  For me, planning something fun to do, or even a warm place to visit, gives me something to look forward to and keeps my mind positively focused on what’s ahead.  It doesn’t have to be a huge expensive getaway, just something that breaks up the boringness of winter and gives you something fun to look forward to.   It could be as simple as having a girls (or guys) day out.  Or maybe traveling an hour away and staying the night somewhere with an indoor (heated) swimming pool- the kiddos love this!  Or if you’re one that takes yearly vacations, plan yours in the middle of winter- to someplace with lots of sun!

 

Other tools that help

  • Foot zoning– Regular foot zoning at least once a month can help balance emotions and improve physical well being.  If you’re working on something specific like a physical or emotional issue (seasonal depression), I would suggest regular zones of at least every other week to help balance the body and brain connections.
  • Rescue Remedy– This is a homeopathic blend of 5 Bach Flower Remedies.  This mix was created by Dr Bach to deal with emergencies and crises- physical or emotional, and can be used to help us get through any stressful situation.  I have used this blend many times for emotional distress for me and my kids.  It helps us relax, get focused and the calmness we need.
  • Energy work– Usually a foot zone therapist will do energy clearing during a foot zone, but if not, it’s easy to find a person that can do energy work.  Ask around in your circle of friends- you will eventually be led to someone who can help you.  Also, I have said this a thousand times, that prayer and meditation are often times the best form of energy work.  I have released so many negative thoughts and emotions through prayer.  The most powerful question to do this is, “What am I ready to release right now?”, or “What am I needing to let go of right now?”.  Then listen.  Thoughts will come to your mind of what you need to get rid of.  Then, I ask that it be released on a cellular memory level and I imagine the dark energy leaving my cells and my body.  This is very simple but very powerful, and it works!
  • Talking to friends- Go visit a friend and have a nice chat.  It’s amazing how a little friendship changes your perspective.
  • Serve someone– One of the best forms of medicine for depression is service!  When you’re depressed you really don’t feel like going out and serving someone.  But something happens when you forget about yourself and focus on someone else’s needs and problems- your perspective changes and you feel better!  It happens every time.

 

Another word of advice:  If you find that you’ve tried natural ways to treat your seasonal depression and you just can’t snap out of it, GET HELP from loved ones and medical professionals.  Don’t be so proud that you ignore the help and support from those around you.  Depression is a very serious- very real thing.  Reach out and seek help, don’t try to do this on your own.

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to 6 Natural Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

  1. Shelley Tucker says:

    This was really good! Lots of good insights and suggestions!

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