To make this not so scary, simply ask yourself the question, “Does my mood state decline or change with the seasons? In retrospect, this is partially true for almost every living being on the planet, especially those that live in northern regions with a lot of snow and short daylight hours.
Animals in the wild get to hibernate their winter blues away. Humans, not so lucky, even though we certainly feel like it on dark, blistery days.
SAD is not limited to just winter months, though. Some people develop increased anxiety during the summer. Some people loathe spring because of the onset of allergies. A constant influx of sneezing, itchy eyes, and nose snot can give anyone the blues!
Light and dark patterns also play a huge role in mood state. During my two years working in western Alaska, I (Lore) noticed that I was exceptionally lethargic during winter when we had only 4 hours of daylight, and then became a ping-pong ball on steroids during early summer months when it was light until after midnight and then again at 5:30am.
So what is a gal/guy to do?
Go with the grain of the natural season when it comes to diet and nourish yourself from the inside out. Notice how it is much easier to swim with the current than against it? The body feels the same way when it receives nourishment that is in flow with seasonal cycles. Plus, it is cheaper to buy produce that is in season!
Think about how this makes sense in nature. When berries are abundant in the summer months, animals in the wild eat berries every day, as much as they want. They instinctively know that one, berries are yummy (duh!) and two, they won't be around for long so eat up!
Nature has an amazing way of providing us with the nutrients we need at the current time. The problem is, with grocery store convenience, and world-wide shipping, we forget to take our cues from Mother Nature.
Here are some seasonal food examples...
Summer Foods – sweet, bitter and cool foods, salads (artichokes, bell pepper, broccoli, jicama, fennel, zucchini, summer squash, stone fruits, berries, melons, grapes, garbanzo beans, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, minimal lean protein, rice)
Spring Foods – spicy and bitter soups, steamed dishes, lighter 'warm' fare (asparagus, bean sprouts, dark leafy greens, radishes, turnips, celery, mushrooms, dried fruit, lean animal protein, legumes)
Fall/Winter Foods – sweet, sour, salty, soups, stews, hot teas/beverages, steamed vegetables, oily foods (beets, carrots, winter squash, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, avocados, citrus, nuts, animal proteins, amaranth, quinoa)
Vitamin D2 & D3 supplements may also help. Most supplements are filled with synthetic gunk, so I don't advocate taking them just for the sake of it or because you think you are 'supposed to'. Take them if you are feeling lethargic and/or depressed, and don't have access to real sunlight. Read the labels of your supplements and go for the least amount of ingredients/additives possible.
If you live in a sunny region, though, by all means, step outside for 10 minutes and expose your skin to the sun. And leave off the sunscreen for those few precious minutes.
Finally, get some exercise. Walk, run, yoga, do something to get the blood flowing, even if you don't feel like it. Exercise releases adrenaline, which boosts your energy.
Nourish Mentally & Emotionally
Get some exercise. Walk, run, yoga, do something to get the blood flowing, even if you don't feel like it. Yes, I know, I just repeated myself. Exercise also releases endorphins, though, which makes for happy feelings.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Misery loves company. Don't let your mind chat you into a depressed mood state or into an anxious ruckus. Take deep breaths. Meditate. Visualize a snow plow in your mind that sweeps away the ugly chatter (and the pile of dirty dishes in the sink awaiting your attention....what? wishful thinking).
For those that live in dark winter regions, a few 'light' tools can help. My morning wake-up survival in Alaska depends on my sunrise alarm clock. Several people swear by sunning themselves like a salamander under their light box. These tools can help both physically and mentally.
If you are experiencing severe winter depression, spring-time allergies, or summer anxiety, please seek out professional help from an Integrative Physician who can help you create a wellness plan and prescribe medication if needed. Your safety is paramount!