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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Beating the winter blues

Winter always depressing me, the plants and trees go into hibernation and the landscapes are dreary..perfect reflection of my mood, dreary.  This winter I have been doing everything I can to keep myself busy.  This year, I planted a fall/winter garden. It's not much but it does get me out into the sunshine for a few minutes a day; currently its broccoli, cauliflower, kale, rosemary and we have added an (indoor) kaffir lime tree (a generous gift from my friend Debe at Awesome Bistro Compliments.)  On sunny days I also open my curtains to let the natural light in, it works miracles for me.

The kids are really good at keeping me distracted by building couch cushion forts, blanket tents and digging in our indoor pots of dirt or treating the tub like a swimming pool.

Scent is also something I use to lift my mood by lighting incense or candles, usually an uplifting scent of citrus, sandalwood or ocean breeze.  Good scents for me are also cinnamon, rose, or anything chocolate scented.  But there are times when distraction and aromatherapy just aren't enough and I have to add in some supplements.  Natural News posted a great list, so I am gong to quote and copy it here:

Vitamin D
A depression which recurs annually during the winter, as well as feelings of depression which deepen during this period, are related to lack of vitamin D, which is delivered in its most powerful form through sunshine. Vitamin D increases brain levels of serotonin, which has been called the "happiness hormone." Vitamin D also plays an important role in the body's production of dopamine, a mood-lifting transmitter. One excellent source of vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil; just one teaspoon a day delivers a potent dose of this vitamin. Dietary sources include salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as organ meats and eggs (choose organic sources for maximum health benefit, of course). You may also want to try a vitamin D supplement to ensure that you get your daily dose.

St. John's Wort
This plant has been used as a nerve tonic for centuries. Its name derives from the fact that its bright yellow flowers bloom around June 24, the day when the feast of St. John was celebrated in the medieval era, shortly after the summer solstice. Traditional herbalists have long held that a tincture made from this plant delivers some of the bright solar energy of that time of year. Recent medical research has confirmed its efficacy in treating anxiety as well as moderate depression.

Side-effects and precautions: St. John's wort should not be taken in combination with pharmaceutical anti-depressants. Some studies suggest it may interfere with oral contraceptives. St. John's Wort may increase the effect of sleeping medications and anesthetics. It may cause sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Also, for people suffering from bipolar disorder, taking this herbal remedy may increase mood swings.

Learn more:

 Ginko Biloba is a natural ingredient that improves circulation in the brain, which often in turn improves memory and also alleviates some symptoms of depression. It is not as effective as St. John's Wort, but it can be taken in conjunction with other natural ingredients as an overall mood-booster.
Siberian Ginseng aids the balance of essential neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Taking Siberian Ginseng regularly can lead to improved feelings of general well-being.
Passion flower is another natural ingredient that can help treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Passion flower is a natural salve that helps to calm and soothe. When it is combined with St. John's Wort, it can be very successful in treating depression naturally.  (source: 
DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, these remedies may work for me but may not be right for everyone, please consult your doctor or naturopath before starting any new remedies to avoid interactions with prescription medication or potential health hazards.

In addition to these supplements, a balanced diet and activities such as exercise, yoga or tai-chi also help to keep the mind occupied and off of the cold temps and sleeping landscape outside.

Do you suffer from SAD or seasonal depression?  If so, how do you treat it? 

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