As we approach the shortest day of the year and get sucked into the winter blues, it's only natural to think about Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD - aptly named). It's a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern. It typically starts in the fall or early winter and begins to go away towards the sunnier spring months.
Unfortunately, women are 4 times more likely to experience SAD (says the National Institute of Mental Health) and the winter version is marked by symptoms like: having low energy, hypersomnia (wanting to sleep all the time), weight gain, and social withdrawal. Basically, feeling the pull to hibernate.
If you feel this pull towards seasonal depression, there are a few things I’ve found through my health journey and work with herbs that have helped. Routines, maintaining connections, and supportive rituals are powerful allies to alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Focusing On Your Health
Trust me, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time outside when the weather turns colder. It’s important to maintain healthy habits and routines, though, and it always makes me feel better to get outside and take a walk.
Eating well is also so helpful. Hearty meals that are full of good proteins and veggies (and plenty of herbs and spices) help to fill up myself and James. Things like stews can be so hearty and comforting and you’d be surprised at the amount of vegetables you can get into your diet that way.
James and I also love making chili. I shared a “recipe” on Instagram a few weeks ago with our go-to InstantPot cookers. I say “recipe” because we really don’t follow much of a recipe, but we do tend to put the same general types of things into the InstantPot. You can adjust the ingredients to suit your tastes.
My approach is to chop all the vegetables, throw everything in, and hope I don’t go over the max fill line!
Reaching Out for a Warming Connection
Traditions and decorations are powerful pieces this time of year. They hopefully remind us of happy memories of hanging stockings or lighting candles with our family and friends.
Feeling separated from your loved ones can be especially hard when Seasonal Affective Disorder is present. Bringing warm, connective energy to the day always helps me feel closer to my family when I’m not physically close to them.
Doing things that warm me up physically while thinking about family is, oddly, very comforting. Like petting the cats while meditating on happy memories. I feel physically and emotionally “warm.”
Please, talk to those you love - healthy connection, just like healthful eating and exercising, helps so much. Even if you personally are not feeling the effects of SAD, your thoughtfulness in checking in with a friend who is may make a world of difference to them.
Keeping Your Rituals and Supporting Yourself with Herbs
It can be extremely hard to keep a normal routine during the holiday season, but sticking to your grounding rituals will help alleviate some symptoms of SAD.
As I wrote in Three Ways to Breathe Through the Holidays This Season, surrounding yourself with rituals and common touchpoint help when your schedule is out of whack. Everything from shorter days, which may interfere with your circadian rhythms, to eating differently may cause disruptions to your mental and physical health.
A ritual allows your mental state to “come back to center” and refocus itself. There’s a biodynamic response that gets set off when you start to perform a calming ritual. Your breathing will typically deepen and the rest of your body will follow by feeling relaxed.
Of course, herbs are powerful allies when faced with SAD. Teas and tisanes that help bolster your immune system and promote sleep are beneficial to maintaining a balanced routine in the dark, winter months. (I actually made Lavender Mint Dream specifically to promote relaxation and sleep!)
Another thing I made for a specific purpose is the Winter Solstice Bundle. The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and it’s also a day that carries many spiritual meanings. With the day being the shortest, the night is the longest. This promotes powerful energy of regeneration, renewal, and self-reflection.
I have chosen each item in the Winter Solstice Bundle to support you during the Winter Solstice. The herbs and practices I include are helpful for this period of dark and cold. The PDF will guide you in enhancing your winter solstice ritual, whether you are celebrating by yourself or with others.
It is my hope with the Winter Solstice Bundle that you are able to create ritual and meaning during this time of year. I find that attaching meaning to something larger than myself helps greatly when I’m feeling the pull of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
This Bundle is specially crafted for you when you order. If you’d like to receive your bundle in time for the Winter Solstice on December 21, please order it today! Click here to reserve yours on Etsy!
Seasonal Affective Disorder touches many. How do you or your loved ones who feel this depressive energy work through those periods of the “winter blues”?