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7 Holistic Ways for Managing Seasonal Depression This Winter

7 Holistic Ways for Managing Seasonal Depression This Winter

Does the mere thought of December make your mood sink? Seasonal depression is a real condition that may have once served a survival purpose but causes many people misery today. Along with speaking to a psychiatrist, you may want to explore holistic methods to help you manage seasonal depression this winter.

What Is Seasonal Depression?

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) mimic those of major depressive disorder, but they follow a cyclical pattern, occurring during four or five months of the year. These symptoms mainly appear as the days get shorter and colder. Pay attention if you notice the following signs between November and March:

  • Persistent sad, empty or anxious mood lasting every day for at least two weeks
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, irritability, frustration, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns

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7 Holistic Methods of Managing Seasonal Depression

Speaking with a medical professional is always recommended if you notice consistent signs of poor mental health. As you work with a care provider, you may also want to try holistic methods to help you feel happier and more balanced throughout the winter.

1. Clean Your Home

Cleaning your house has many benefits this time of year. First, it’s always good to disinfect and dust during cold and flu season to keep you healthy. On top of that, having a clutter-free space can relieve stress and make you feel at peace. When dealing with the winter blues, a calm and relaxing home can make all the difference.

2. Shine a Light

Light therapy uses a lamp that mimics the sun’s rays to signal your brain’s emotional center to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with calm, positive feelings.

Fortunately, you can purchase these lamps over the counter and use them any time of day, although you might get the most benefit in the morning after waking up.

Another helpful hint is to invest in a sunrise alarm clock. These gently illuminate your room like the morning sun, keeping you from awakening in the dark — this little psychological boost really helps.

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3. Garden

While you may not be sure how to garden in the winter, consider that now is the ideal time to perfect the art of sprouting seedlings. This activity can give you something to focus on throughout the winter, giving you a source of accomplishment.

It takes a bit of trial and error to nurture the seeds from the produce you buy into baby plants, but you’ll have a stash for your soil or to share with friends by the time spring rolls around. Many plants also grow well in containers, providing you with an ongoing source of beauty and sometimes nutrition all year long.

4. Take a Hike

Getting outside is one of the best holistic remedies for seasonal depression. It bathes you in natural sunlight and may boost your immunity to ward off winter colds that can dim your spirits. That’s because trees emit substances called phytoncides that increase the number of killer cells your body produces when you inhale them.

5. Pare Your Schedule

Seasonal depression had an evolutionary purpose — it encouraged slowing down when the cold posed an immediate survival risk. Although humans don’t hibernate, cutting back on your responsibilities eases stress. Excess tension can morph into depression, especially when you feel pressured to do it all while skating on snow and ice. Take a break!

6. Feed Your Mood

Certain nutrients can boost mood, including magnesium and selenium. Omega-3s may also ease depression, and adequate vitamin C and zinc can slightly shorten winter cold symptoms that impact your mindset. Strive to get more of the following in your diet to boost intake:

  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Brightly colored vegetables

7. Embrace Hygge

“Hygge” is a Danish term for the sense of cozy contentment evoked by doing things like cuddling by the fire with a cup of warm tea. It’s how those who live in frigid climates traditionally made the most of this time, filling dark days by sharing delicious meals, storytelling and indoor crafts. You can embrace hygge by surrounding yourself with comfy blankets, sipping your favorite warm beverage and planning visits with family and friends.

Holistic Ways to Manage Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression is a real condition that can debilitate you in severe cases. Fortunately, many people experience milder symptoms, which you can improve with advice from your doctor and these holistic approaches.

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