If you missed Part One of our blog post on beating the winter blues, click here.
Serious depression can immobilize you in carrying on your daily life and even lead to thoughts of suicide. So, if you are dealing with that level of depression, please seek professional help; and never stop taking anti-depression meds without a doctor’s supervision.
If you simply notice a downward trajectory in your mood and energy when the light wanes, however; here are some more ideas from your friends at Candida Support on how to alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Treat your Candida!
Researchers aren’t entirely sure why depression is a symptom of fungal Candida yeast overgrowth, but the “Candida Blues” are reported over and over again by people dealing with the condition. As we mentioned in Part I, scientists are beginning to suspect that this has to do with the “gut-brain axis”–the connection between the health of your microbiome and the health of your brain.
And, as we all know, it is downright depressing to deal with Candida!
Our ThreeLac™ and Candizolv™ can help you get a handle on your Candida.
Let there be light!
Using a sun lamp or light therapy box can be very helpful in off-setting symptoms of SAD. These devices are available both online and from many big-box or warehouse stores and run from $40 to over $100. To be effective, just make sure the one you choose has 10,000 Lux, which is the therapeutic level needed to be effective.
It is important to use the device daily and at the same time each day, to be most effective. Using a light box can also help with sleep disturbances, IF you do it at the same time every day (if you don’t, it can actually disturb your sleep patterns). Try to incorporate 30 minutes of light into your morning routine–while you are eating breakfast, for instance.
A good night’s sleep
A regular, good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining positive mental health, especially in the winter months. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try implementing “good sleep hygiene.”
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, as much as possible (including weekends.)
- Blue light signals your brain that it is NOT time to sleep and we are surrounded by little blue LEDs! Make sure that your bedroom is free of blue light, which may involve unplugging a few things and maybe trading in your alarm clock.
- Go into the settings of your computer, phone, tablet or other devices; and under “Display,” look for a “night” setting. You can set this to automatically lower brightness and display a warmer tone after a certain time, say, 7 pm.
- Cut yourself off from screens (devices and TV) at least one hour before bed.
- Put together a quieting routine each night before bed. Do this by perhaps reading a good (not exciting!) book with a cup of soothing tea, taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or 20 minutes of yoga or stretching.
- Limit alcohol consumption to earlier in the evening (alcohol can disrupt sleep).
In the West, meditation practice is often associated with Eastern religion, but almost every spiritual tradition uses some form of meditation, mindfulness, or centering prayer. However, you don’t even need to be “spiritual” to meditate. Certain forms of meditation are decidedly secular and use deep relaxation or breathing techniques to enter the meditative state.
The documented benefits of meditation are many, including stress reduction, improved sleep, and relief from anxiety and depression. Meditation has been used to treat conditions as far-ranging as heart disease, ADHD and addiction.
Many wellness programs at local hospitals and health centers offer meditation classes. If you’d like to get started on your own, check out the variety of meditation apps, or YouTube videos that are available on your phone.
My own experience has been that exercise is a big key to keeping a positive mood over the winter. Our family belongs to the local YMCA, where I do vigorous walking, use the stationary bikes and stair climber, and practice yoga.
A few years ago I decided to embrace winter and began to enjoy hiking in the woods, and cross-country skiing. This is not only fun, but these activities get me out into the winter light between November and March. (Yes, we DO experience some winter light in Michigan.)
Many people enjoy running (indoors or out), swimming (probably indoors – unless you are a member of the Polar Bear Club), walking the dog, lifting weights, yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong, dancing . . . I find that a combination of aerobic, weights and stretching works well for me, but the important thing is to find something you enjoy and commit to do it 2 to 4 times a week.
Why does exercise work? It produces endorphins, chemicals which produce a natural “high” in the brain. It also improves cardio-vascular health, brain function in general, and you feel fitter and look better!
I hope that these suggestions help you weather the long winter days. And remember: Spring will come!