From staying hydrated to plant-based protein, here’s how to get your shine on this holiday season.
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When the clocks go back, we can almost smell the sense of disappointment in the air. The days are shorter and colder, and less sunlight can really have an impact on our mood. For some, wintertime can bring on a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression influenced by the changing of seasons. It normally sets in after Labor Day, and symptoms become more intense by January or February. The lack of sunlight can cause decreased concentration, increased appetite, moodiness, social withdrawal, and fatigue.
While some might brush it off as being extra moody, or just “winter blues,” it’s much more than that. SAD is a real form of depression that can be dependent on hormone levels, temperature, and exposure to natural light, which directly influences the body’s production of melatonin.
Studies show that SAD is more prevalent in areas that have longer, colder winters. So, if you’re feeling sensitive to all the snow or down in the dumps this season, here are a few ways to battle seasonal affective disorder.
SAD is a form of depression, so it’s best to get it diagnosed by a mental health professional. Doctors usually suggest a combination of light therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which is a form of talk therapy, to deal with SAD. Talk therapy can help to shift your mindset and gives you the tools to manage stress and mood changes.
The go-to treatment for SAD, light therapy is a tried-and-true option for easing seasonal depression. Mimicking outdoor light, a light therapy box is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. The best time to use the light therapy box is the first hour of waking up, so try it out with your morning cup of coffee. Before ordering anything on Amazon, talk to your doctor about the best treatment. Once you get the go-ahead, you can find plenty of affordable devices online!
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help to manage seasonal affective disorder, especially if it’s outside. If it’s snowy and freezing, maybe try out a cycling class (and pick a bike closest to the window!).
People with SAD tend to have trouble sleeping at night and getting up each morning. Sticking to a regular schedule helps to expose you to consistent light and keeps you motivated to get out and do the things you love. Making a conscious effort to make plans (and stick to them) can improve your mood. If you really want to hold yourself accountable, make plans to go to a yoga class with a friend.
There is healing power in aromatherapy. Essential oils like bergamot, cardamom, jasmine, and orange can help to usher in brightness, heighten the senses, and balance emotions. Need tips on what to put in your diffuser? Here’s a helpful blend from Aromatics during these winter months when SAD takes its toll.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.