By Dr. Seneca Anderson, DOM, ND, L.Ac.

Baby, it’s cold outside! As we head into the winter months, it’s a great time to check in with your mental and emotional well-being and take steps to prepare your mind, body, and heart for the chilly months ahead.

According to Psychology Today, “Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of recurrent major depressive disorder in which episodes of depression occur during the same season each year. This condition is sometimes called the “winter blues,” because the most common seasonal pattern is for depressive episodes to appear in the fall or winter and remit in the spring.”

Seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans, and it’s four times more common in women than in men.

Here are a few tips to help you bust those winter blues this year. 

  • Opt outside: Sure, it might sound overly simplistic, but research proves that connecting with creation reduces stress and helps regulate emotions. Take a brisk walk or run, or just spend a few minutes outside noticing and feeling grateful for the beauty of nature. It will do wonders for your heart, soul, and health! 
  • Get moving: Exercising 30 minutes a day can help you produce endorphins that fight and eliminate stress. Whether it’s hiking, fitness classes, weight lifting, or a team sport, find an activity you love and make it a daily priority. In addition to your mind, your heart, lungs, and muscles will thank you! 
  • Catch some zzzzz’s: Studies show that most Americans simply don’t get enough hours of sleep, which leads to mood swings, cognitive difficulties, and poor academic and professional performance, further exacerbating stress and anxiety. Shoot for a minimum of 8-9 hours of shut-eye per night! 
  • Get quiet: Carving out ten minutes to sit in prayerful silence before God and let go of our ceaseless striving, habitual thoughts, and nagging doubts retrains the heart and mind to know and accept that we are loved unconditionally by our Creator. Try meditation first thing in the morning by creating a sacred space in your home that is quiet and free of distractions.
  • Read: Pick up a good book and get lost in it! Stories aren’t just a means of escaping the real world, they help us identify with and connect to something bigger than ourselves. A great novel can build empathy and combat isolation. 
  • Take a social media fast: Studies link social media use with anxiety, so it’s no surprise that resisting the temptation to tweet, share, like, or post has a direct impact on better mood, less worry, and higher self-esteem in adults and children. Pick at least one day per week to fast from social media and then monitor how it impacts your sense of well-being. This is a great habit to model to your teens! 
  • Serve others: There’s nothing quite like helping someone in need to elevate mood and remind yourself of your blessings. Help a neighbor, get behind a cause, or volunteer at a homeless shelter or food kitchen. The service opportunities are endless when you’re paying attention! 
  • IRL connection: We all need somebody to lean on! Nothing is more transformative than human connection and intimate relationships. We all want to be known, loved, and to belong.  Reach out to others for connection, support, and a listening ear. 
  • Get professional counseling: Thankfully, the stigma surrounding mental health issues is slowly subsiding in America. If you are concerned about your mental well-being, or just need an unbiased sounding board, see an expert. 
  • Load up on Vitamin D3: Now is the time to start taking high amounts of “the sunshine vitamin.” Among its many benefits, D3 elevates mood and activates the immune system to defend against invading microorganisms. We get this fat-soluble nutrient through sun exposure, but during the dreary winter months, it’s often necessary to get it through supplementation (Most Americans are deficient!).  As a general rule, an adult of average weight should ingest at least 5,000 international units of supplemental D3 a day, and children should take a daily dose of 1,000 international units per every 25 pounds of body weight.
  • Take a natural supplement: Our Nutrition Shop is filled with natural remedies to boost mood and guard against insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Our favorites include Adaptogenic Herbs, homeopathic neurotransmitters, vitamin D3 and B vitamins, 5-HTP, and more. Call or stop by our Shop to talk to a knowledgeable staff member for recommendations for you and your whole family. 
  • Get a restorative therapy: Longevity offers a variety of relaxing and healing therapies in a warm and caring environment. Our top picks for busting the winter blues are Massage Therapy and Acupuncture. HOCATT Therapy also boosts mood and energy by increasing serotonin, improving circulation, enhancing brain function, and burning up to 600 calories. Our team of experienced therapists are simply the best!

To learn more about the products and services we offer for protecting your mental and emotional well-being this season, call us at 770-642-4646.