Be Your Personal Sunshine: 8 Strategies to Reduce SAD
Folks, it is that time of year again. The leaves are turning, falling, and being washed away by either wind or rain. I live in Portland, Oregon, where our winters are grey, cold, and damp. This climate produces a very hearty community of people who either embrace the seasonal change and thrive in this environment or conduct every strategy known to man to stay warm and reduce the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I, with my dark olive complexion, am an individual who does everything possible to stay sane this time of year. Here are a few of my strategies:
Tip 1: Repaint Your Walls
Paint with brighter colors. Good choices are yellows, oranges, reds and copper tones. These bright colors can cheer up the dimmest of moods and bring warmth into your life when the sky is grey, the ground is brown, and earth tones are all around.
Tip 2: Get New Light Bulbs
Change your bulbs to be full spectrum and/or get a light therapy lamp with at least 3,000 Lux. There are several manufacturers online for you to choose from. Read and follow the directions accordingly.
Tip 3: Start Your Goals Now
Begin writing your goals now and don’t wait to start working on them until January. Keep your energy and sense of vitality up with movement and exercise. Embark on a new activity to spark your interest off the couch and into a sweaty athlete.
Tip 4: Go Somewhere Sunny
Take a pilgrimage to a brighter location. You don’t have to travel far to get sun. Make it a regular trip, if possible, to elevate your mood. Seek out nearby areas that are rain shadows or sunbelts. Some states have several. In Oregon, people venture to the high desert or Rogue Valley to seek snow and sun.
Tip 5: Enjoy Warm Water
Take warm baths and wrap yourself up with warm cotton or wool right out of the bathtub. Wrap your wet hair up tight and try to blow it dry immediately. The head is where you lose a high percentage of heat and compounding this with evaporation from wet hair will leave you with a cold head in a short period of time.
Tip 6: Give Yourself Flowers
Buy yourself bright flowers on a weekly basis and put them in your most frequented room. I currently have sunflowers and they make me smile every time I look at them.
Tip 7: Adjust Your Nutrition
Here are some foods to eat and some others to avoid:
- Consume a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in the morning. This will help alkalize your system as well as create a warm sensation to your belly.
- Drink lukewarm water and reduce or omit cold water with ice as it pulls blood from the extremities to your stomach in order to warm up body temperature.
- Add warm spices to meals. These may include: cinnamon, cayenne, garlic, ginger, black pepper, and horseradish.
- Increase vegetable temperatures by stir frying them in a wok or with light steam.
Tip 8: Do Yoga
Heat up your core with yoga and a fun arm balance sequence. Turn up the temperature in your yoga room for your practice and prepare to slide into this juiced up asana practice.
- Sun Salutations (do as many as possible in your given time frame to warm up to a sweat)
- Turbo Dog
- Handstand Straddle
- Crow Pose
- Astavakrasana (pictured)
- Forearm Balance
- Forearm Balance Straddle Legs
- Handstand Straddle (on wall shifting weight from one hand to the other)
Link the arm balances together. This brings lower body heat up through the chest and runs it through the arms and earth.
The greatest strategy I have used over the years to combat SAD is to keep myself busy. Moving from spring to fall is a season of transitioning from all our labors and efforts to the time to reap the benefits. Allow this time to switch gears and continue being interested in diverse activities. This helps the body and mind rest and recover from what had been cultivated over the last six months. Take delight and choose to enjoy the change rather than resist it and your overall mood will lift your spirits and the spirits of those around you.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.