As we enter into the colder months and shorter days of fall and winter, it’s not uncommon for our moods to decline with the lack of sunny weather. In some cases, seasonal changes can bring about feelings of sadness and depression.
If you’re negatively impacted as the seasons change, here are a few natural but effective ways to combat seasonal depression this year.
1. Increase Your Intake of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
The nutrients you receive from your diet play a role in regulating your mood, especially when it comes to essential fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids, in particular, are not only considered excellent brain food for cognitive function but also help regulate the production of dopamine and serotonin, your feel-good neurotransmitters. You can increase the omega 3 fatty acids in your diet by eating chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, almonds, and wild salmon.
2. Take Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” because it is obtained directly from sunlight and promotes a happy, sunshine-y mood. Depression often has links to low levels of vitamin D, so be sure you’re increasing your intake throughout the gloomy months. It’s possible to obtain vitamin D from food sources such as egg yolks, fatty fish, cod liver oil and fortified cereals and orange juice- however, taking a vitamin D supplement can provide a more concentrated and therapeutic dosage to counteract seasonal depression naturally. To determine the appropriate dosage for your unique requirements, check in with your licensed healthcare practitioner before beginning supplementation.
3. Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Balanced
Ensuring your blood sugar levels are stabilized by consuming healthy fats and protein at every meal and snack can further improve your mood. When your blood sugar levels are imbalanced from excess sugar, alcohol or caffeine consumption, your mood can fluctuate, producing feelings of depression, anxiety or irritability. Stress, tobacco use and skipping meals are other causes of blood sugar level imbalance, so be sure to check in with these factors if you’re experiencing seasonal depression and start including good quality protein and healthy fats at each meal.
4. Try a New Exercise Class
Although it can be tempting to skip the gym in the morning and stay cozy under the blankets in the cooler months, you’ll thank yourself after every workout you complete. Exercising releases endorphins and provides you with sustainable energy, allowing you to feel motivated and positive throughout the day. To keep your exercise routine fresh this fall, why not try a new form of exercise? Switch up the spin classes for barre or put your focus on strength training rather than cardio. You never know what kind of new fitness challenges you’ll fall in love with until you try something new.
5. Take Lorna Vanderhaeghe’s Smile 5-HTP
Smile 5-HTP is a break-down product of the amino acid tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce serotonin in the brain. Since low levels of serotonin are linked to depression, 5-HTP can be a great help throughout the dark, colder months when you start to feel down or as if something isn’t quite right.