Updated: Jan 23, 2020
You may not know, but I live in Northern New Jersey, and winter can be dreary! I’ve never been a huge fan of winter (I’m a sucker for those transitional months of spring and fall!), and often find friends and I change a bit during the grey months of the year - in general, we’re a happy bunch until November/December comes around and then we all get a little down. However, none of my dear friends in Southeast Asia (hello Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam or the Philippines) seem to get caught up in this cycle and sun is the reason!
This year I wanted to make sure that I’m working at my highest potential and without anything getting in my way, so I decided to do a little bit of research on what may be causing me and my East Coast USA friends to get a little bit down. When I went online, my dear friend Google brought me to hundreds and hundreds of articles on Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka SAD.
Here’s all I’ve learned about SAD and how I’ve been making sure my mental and physical health is where it should be so that I’m not hit too hard!
So, What exactly is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of mild or extreme depression that is related to changes in the season, beginning and ending at around the same time each and every year. People who have SAD usually see symptoms starting in late fall/early winter. If you find yourself feeling a bit more depressed during the day, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, having lower energy, problems with sleeping, gaining weight (not the holiday kind *wink wink*), having difficulty concentrating, or finding yourself craving new things--you may be experiencing SAD! No one really knows what the cause is exactly; however, a few factors may be reduced sunlight which causes a drop in serotonin and shifting melatonin levels.
How have I been fighting off SAD?
1) Stick to a schedule.
A routine can be a great anchor to a day. Knowing that from 6-8 am I complete my morning prayer and movement routine, and that by 10pm I’m in bed reading a good book, takes away any uncertainty that may throw off my day. Daily routines and habits can also allow us to cultivate moments of self-care throughout the day!
2) Get your body moving.
I’m going to follow the logic of Elle Woods at this point in saying, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy! Each and every kind of movement, be it a quick morning walk or a full-on CrossFit session counts, anything that gets your blood flowing counts!
3) Find time to be outside in the sunlight (or find a replacement).
Exposure to the sun has been directly linked to an increase in serotonin, and the feeling I get from taking a quick walk outside during the few hours of sunshine that we get these days, or reading by the window with the sun beating down on my face proves this 100%. And if you can’t find a little bit of time to take a moment and bask in the sun’s rays, I’ve heard amazing things about light therapy lights (not tanning beds!)!
4) Vitamin D supplement (try doTERRA LLV).
In my reading and research on the link between sunlight and overall better well being, I also came across the understanding that Vitamin D supplementation is a helpful aid to battle SAD. Thankfully, doTERRA’s LLV pack includes xEO Mega which contains 800 IU of vitamin D and so I’ve been supplementing daily and feeling amazing effects!
5.) Break out your Essential...oils that is.
And lastly, where would I be without my essential oils. There are dozens that I could talk about which help with keeping my mood elevated and my office space happy, but I’ve determined that my top 5 would probably be the most helpful to you all! I keep a diffuser running all day with a blend of the oils below and have made lots of roll-ons to keep handy at all times!
Top 5 Essential Oils to Help Fight off SAD:
Bergamot: this sweet and fruity scent is my favorite of all the essential oils doTERRA offers and the perfect friend to help alleviate tension, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and everything else associated with SAD!
Grapefruit: an energizing and uplifting oil, this citrus is great to help keep yourself motivated and going-brightening any dreary day
Peppermint: my go-to morning pick-me-up, I keep peppermint with me and on my desk at all times, loving the spark it brings back into my day
Basil: a powerhouse of antioxidants, this oil helps reduce fatigue and helps uplift any day, especially when blended with Peppermint! Add a drop to your next diffuser blend
Rose: while Rose oil has dozens of health benefits (reducing pain/inflammation, increasing circulation, reducing mental fog, etc.), it also has a ton of positive effects on your mood! Rose’s ability to help alleviate stress and balance hormone levels helps improve your mood and alleviate SAD symptoms.