The days are getting shorter. Fall has arrived in all its resplendent beauty. While the changing colors are lovely, insufficient daylight may find you down in the dumps and more tired than usual.
The world-renowned Mayo Clinic estimates that ten to twenty percent (and maybe more) of the population suffers from some sort of seasonal depression brought on by shorter days. Some estimates indicate there are millions of North Americans who suffer from a more extreme version of “winter blues” called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
At this stage of the research, the disorder seems to be related to insufficient light and the resulting hormonal disruptions caused by the pineal gland. When the pineal gland believes it is in darkness, it secretes a hormone called melatonin, which has sedative properties.There are numerous symptoms of the winter blues, but the main ones usually appear in the colder season and include:
• Change in appetite, particularly for sweet or starchy foods.
• Weight gain.
• Change in sleep patterns.
• Tendency to oversleep.
• Avoidance of social situations.
• Decreased ability to concentrate.
• Decreased energy.
Whether it is full-blown SAD or a milder case of the seasonal blues, here are tips to help bring some “light” back into your days.
Bundle up and take a brisk walk outdoors during your lunch or after work to get some sunlight.
Change your bulbs
Increase exposure to light indoors by replacing light bulbs with full-spectrum lightbulbs. Unlike standard office and home lights, full-spectrum lights contain a range of rays from ultraviolet to infrared, with rainbow colors of violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, and a multitude of shades between. Full-spectrum lights have a color temperature greater than 5000K and a CRI of over 90–whether or not they’re labeled as “full-spectrum” depends on the manufacturer. Read all about full-spectrum lights and other green lighting options in Love Your Light Bulbs.
Take off the sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses limits the amount of natural light that travels the path from the eyes to the pineal gland, thereby increasing the risk of suffering from the winter blues. Of course, it is important to take certain precautionary measures when sunlight is strong.
Deficiency in any nutrient can cause an imbalance to the body which may result in a worsening of the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. It is important to try to eat a well-balanced diet to help your body cope with seasonal changes. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, including many raw fruits and vegetables. Incorporating raw produce is simple if you include a large and varied salad at each meal; raw fruits, and unsalted nut and seeds as snacks; and a fresh juice wherever possible.
• Vitamin D is potentially the most critical nutrient to staving off SAD. Sunlight is the best source, but, let’s face it, it’s not always possible to get adequate sunlight during the cold weather. You can also supplement with vitamin D. Liquid sources of this vitamin tend to best absorbed. Also, D3 is the natural type of vitamin D, while Vitamin D2 is synthetic and not as well-absorbed by the body. Most people require at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily. Most experts now recommend 1000 IU; however, sometimes more is needed but higher doses should only be used under the guidance of a qualified health professional.
• All the B-vitamins are critical to moods and helping the body to deal with stress, so a B-Complex supplement can help. B-vitamin deficiencies are linked to emotional imbalances as well as many other functions so it is important to obtain adequate amounts on a daily basis—for most people that includes a 50 mg B-complex supplement daily.
• The minerals selenium, magnesium and iron are also critical (to) in dealing with depression and alleviating anxiety and mood disorders. A multi-mineral supplement can supply essential minerals and trace minerals.
By following these simple steps you can do much to keep the dark days bright, and keep those winter blues at bay.