What to do when the sun goes away
The diminishing light, warmth and colour in winter can leave us feeling melancholy, irritable, tired, depressed and SAD! If you are feeling this way, it can be difficult to function during winter. If these feeling reoccur each year, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The shorter days and reduced exposure to sunlight in winter, can disrupt the body. Your sleep-wake cycle responds to the changes in the amount of light and dark through your internal body clock. This is called your circadian rhythms.
Your brain produces a chemical hormone called melatonin through the pineal gland, which helps you sleep when it’s dark. Sunlight triggers the brain to stop producing melatonin, so you feel alert and awake. With the shorter days and longer nights of winter, your body may produce too much melatonin, making you feel drowsy and low in energy.
Serotonin is a chemical substance we call a neurotransmitter in the brain. It regulates your mood and it has been discovered that with the reduced sunlight and extra dark of winter, reduces serotonin. This triggers depression, affects sleep, appetite, memory as well as sexual desire.
Further symptoms of SAD are feeling disoriented, sleepy, moody or depressed. Anxiety, difficulty concentrating and fluctuations in weight or insomnia can also prevail.
SAD not only affects your health and everyday activities, but can flow into your relationships too and you may socially withdraw. There are preventative measures you can take to keep your mood and life stable through winter.
Avoid getting gloomy in winter:
Deal with stress
Understand what is causing your stress, such as work overload, unsupportive relationships, family issues and decide on an action plan. Minimise the impact by using the ‘gentle breath’ meditation to connect you to yourself.
Indoor heating and the cold outdoors can dry out your skin and organs, which decreases metabolic function. Even if you feel less thirsty, it’s important to drink enough fluids to stay healthy.
Stay active with moderate physical activity, which also helps your mood and keeps your weight stable.
Vitamin D is a defence against SAD and depression, as it regulates the pathway of serotonin and increases neuroplasticity. This gives your brain the capacity to change and reprogram. Eat salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, vegies, fruit, legumes and whole grains.
Spend time with family and friends to deepen existing bonds as well as making new acquaintances, so you feel satisfied socially and happy. Volunteer to meet new people and contribute to your community.
Absorb as much natural daylight as possible, ideally 30 minutes per day helps to regulate your body clock and ensures good quality sleep. A short walk during lunch can really help.
Key winter essential oils
Basil revives and uplifts, it sharpens the senses and encourages concentration.
Coriander stimulates our life-giving energy and is great for tiredness and exhaustion.
Orange revives, calms and relaxes while boosting energy and dispelling fatigue.
Cypress Pine refreshes, uplifts and is grounding; it lifts your energy and is rejuvenating.
Peppermint wakes up your mind and improves memory while focusing your senses.
Rosemary improves memory and energises, activates and enlivens the brain.
Sage opens the senses, aids memory, calms the nerves and helps tiredness.
Spearmint helps mental fatigue, nervous stress and invigorates a tired mind and headaches.
Cedarwood calms, soothes, balances the endocrine glands and nervous system.
Jasmine relieves depression, increases alertness, regulates and deepens breathing.
Rosewood stabilised the brain, boosts immunity and is an aphrodisiac.
Sandalwood relaxes nervous tension and anxiety while enhancing attentiveness.
Petitgrain slows the body down, eases breathing, relaxing the body ready for sleep.
Neroli tranquilises the nervous system and is good anxiety and disturbed sleep.
Ravensara helps with pain and depression and induces relaxation to help with sleep.
Lavender is balancing, clears mental chatter, tempers harsh thoughts and allows new perspectives to enter.
Use on a tissue through the day and under you pillow at night or in a diffuser.
A warm foot bath before bed helps you sleep helps as it brings your energy down from you head. Use enough warm water in a container so that it covers your feet and ankles.
Add 2 drops of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or milk to help disperse the oils into the water to a bowl of warm water to soothe aching muscles, hydrate the skin and relieve pain. You can add 1/2 – 1/3 of a cup of epsom salts to the foot bath to help relax muscles and relieve stiff, painful joints. Soak your feet for 10 – 15 minutes.
Not sure whether this is you? Need help with choosing a few essential oils perfect for you?
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