The winter blues can be anything ranging from a self-described “blah” feeling to a clinical diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Roughly 6% of the US population is reportedly affected by SAD. If you are finding yourself needing a mood boost this winter, here are 5 things, other than a light box, to try:
Visit an Infrared Sauna
Infrared Light Therapy involves using infrared frequencies of light to promote healing. Differing from traditional light therapy, which affects mood, infrared therapy promotes healing at the cellular level. Invisible to the human eye, infrared light falls in the electromagnetic spectrum of thermal radiation. These infrared light waves transfer heat energy very well providing a warm, soothing experience in a sauna setting. Scientifically shown to improve blood flow, the FDA has cleared the use of infrared saunas to promote healing of chronic pain, sore muscles, seasonal affective disorder, and more. Some research is showing anti-aging benefits and overall skin benefits as well.
Practice Restorative Yoga
Yoga practice aims to bring your focus out of the sympathetic nervous system and into the parasympathetic nervous system. This means taking your body out of the flight or fight awareness and into a rest state where you can focus on breath, rest and digestion. The various postures and breathwork that accompany restorative yoga flows put you into a more relaxed state lessening anxiety. When the winter weather has you feeling sluggish or lethargic, the heart opening poses and inversions like headstands or the wheel pose are perfect for providing an energy boost.
Even in the winter, it’s brighter outdoors than inside. While cooler temps and shorter days mean fewer opportunities to be outside, a quick hike or even short stroll can bring natural light exposure and a boost to your mood. Getting in that physical activity can also help when the winter is typically a season of indulging in carbs, weight gain, and the associated lethargic feelings.
While it is common knowledge that what we eat directly impacts physical health, there is not as much information in the general public about how nutrition impacts mental health. The NCBI is publishing studies about the direct link between nutrition and the role it plays in the duration and severity of certain mental health conditions such as depression. Poor diet, and specifically a lack of nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables are a common denominator in patients suffering from various forms of depression. Consuming more fresh produce and ensuring your meeting your daily nutritional needs is a vital part of self-care.
Heat therapy is essentially the use of various forms of heat to provide pain relief or other health benefits. A heating pad, hot cloth, heated water bottles, whirlpool baths, and heat therapy wraps are all various forms of heat therapy. Increased blood flow, boosted collagen production and relief to stiff joints that often accompany cold weather are all benefits that can be achieved with heat therapy. In addition to these benefits, heat often brings feelings of comfort and relaxation making it a soothing solution to help combat winter blues.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Mental Health Treatment at Morningside Recovery
For over 15 years, Morningside Recovery continues to be a leader in mental health treatment. Combining the latest in evidence-based therapies, holistic therapy, and an emphasis on complete wellness, Morningside Recovery is proving the possibility for people with mental health disorders to live a healthy and engaged life.