What are the best ways to fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

As winter sets in, many grapple with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a phenomenon commonly brushed off as the ‘winter blues.’ [1]

However, the impact of SAD is more profound than often acknowledged, affecting millions, particularly during the notorious ‘Blue Monday’ period. 

Brainworks Neurotherapy proposes a holistic approach to health as an effective means to combat this seasonal slump, focusing on mood, sleep and lifestyle.

Let’s dive into transformative practices that can turn dark days into opportunities for positive change and wellbeing [2]:

Bedtime routine

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is a powerful yet often overlooked anti-stress habit.

Setting a fixed bedtime, putting away electronic devices, turning off lights and closing your eyes simultaneously every night regulates circadian rhythms.

This synchronization stabilizes hormone production, improves sleep quality, stabilizes mood and enhances mental health.

Social connections

Contrary to the inclination to isolate oneself during SAD, fostering connections with others is vital.

Engaging in social activities with friends, family, or support groups provides a sense of connection and belonging, acting as a potent antidote to the winter blues [3].

These interactions offer emotional support and a reminder that the battle against SAD is shared.

Grounding

Also known as earthing, grounding involves connecting with the Earth’s surface to absorb its subtle electrical charge. Modern lifestyles often insulate us from direct contact with the Earth.

Grounding has been shown to reduce inflammation, manage stress and improve sleep [4]. Grounding involves contact with natural surfaces like grass, sand, or mud.

In winter, alternatives include touching a tree or your pet while standing on natural surfaces or wearing grounded shoes with conductive materials for at least 20 minutes daily.

Strategic sunlight exposure

Regardless of the weather, spending 10-15 minutes outdoors before noon and during sunset is crucial [5].

This practice regulates mood-related hormones like serotonin, melatonin and cortisol, even in cloudy conditions, as light penetrates through clouds.

It’s essential to note that severe cases of SAD with pronounced symptoms require evaluation and treatment by medical professionals.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, antidepressant medication or a combination of therapies may be recommended.

In such instances, seeking guidance and appropriate care from a healthcare professional is crucial.

Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder involves a holistic approach that addresses various aspects of health.

By incorporating strategic sunlight exposure, grounding practices, maintaining a consistent bedtime routine and nurturing connections, individuals can transform the winter season into a period of positive change and improved wellbeing.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4673349/
[2] https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125010/
[4] https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4304769/

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