Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).
This time of year can be hard for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. For these individuals, the changing season, most commonly from summer into fall, can greatly affect overall health and wellbeing. It can almost seem to come out of the blue. One day, they’re enjoying the sunshine of the summer months and the next, feelings of anxiety, depression and fatigue are making an appearance as the days grow shorter and darker.
If this sounds like you, there are ways to get through what seems like a long road ahead. Always speak with a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions and count on your physician to help you create a plan that is specific to your needs. With a few thoughtful changes, you can get through the fall and winter months as a happier and healthier you.
Light therapy and vitamin D
While too much sunshine can be damaging to our skin and increase our chance of developing certain cancers, a healthy amount of rays can actually make us happier and supply us with more energy. The sun encourages our body to provide produce vitamin D, which helps our immune system fight disease, gives us stronger bones and increases serotonin levels in the brain. When it’s harder to get outside to enjoy the sunshine due to cold temperatures or winter weather, just a small amount of time by a vitamin D lamp can do the trick, but nothing beats the real deal. Sit by a window for 20 minutes while reading a good book or sit by an outdoor fire with a cup of hot tea during the fall.
Sometimes just talking to someone about feelings can be enough to change an individual’s thought process. Those with seasonal affective disorder often don’t realize that the way they are feeling has a biological cause. It helps to confide in someone who is trained to recognize symptoms of the disorder, but confiding in a friend can help uncover solutions, as well.
Two of the most important keys to positive overall health and wellness is getting enough exercise and ample sleep. Although the last thing a person with anxiety or depression feels like doing is exercising (sleep is often a welcomed activity, however), just 20 minutes a day can burn off those negative chemicals and replace them with happy ones. Try adding a bit of activity – a brisk walk, a bike ride or a hike – to your regular routine and you will certainly be surprised at the positive effect it can have on one’s mood. On the flip side, exercise can help correct any problems with sleep, whether it’s insomnia or the inability to stay asleep because of a racing mind. A bit of activity tires the body and mind, and encourages a natural sleep that restores and heals.
As with any condition, disorder or disease, knowledge is everything. Learning about the symptoms, what causes them and what can be done to counteract negative feelings can be powerful. It can alleviate fears, direct one toward finding positive solutions and can completely change one’s outlook on life.