Feeling blue because of the cold, dreary winter weather? Seasonal affective disorder is more than just intermittent sadness or a longing for a warm breeze. The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as a type of depression related to the shift in seasons. Symptoms begin and end around the same time each year, typically commencing in the fall and persisting through the winter months. SAD symptoms can range from major depression, feelings of hopelessness, low energy, insomnia, appetite or weight changes, sluggishness, difficulty concentrating or thoughts of suicide. Patients with SAD may have trouble with regular routines, such as brushing teeth, maintaining appointments, waking up on time or eating a well-rounded diet.
Consider these three ways to counteract SAD symptoms before they take hold of your productivity, health and happiness:
Have you ever smelled a familiar childhood scent and been instantly transported into a positive memory? Those recognizable feelings of comfort and security are a blessing in times of despair. Essential oils work in the same fashion by stimulating your olfactory and limbic systems. Inhaling concentrated plant oils benefits bodily health and elicits a positive emotional state simultaneously. For individuals with seasonal affective disorder, essential oils trigger a variety of emotions. For example, lavender oil promotes relaxation and stress reduction. It can also be used topically to treat bruises, cuts and skin irritation. Chamomile is another soothing agent ingested in tea form or rubbed on your pillowcase for a better night’s rest. To counteract chronic fatigue due to SAD, try citrus oils such as grapefruit or lemon. Both fresh scents boost focus, concentration and alertness when feeling excessively tired or mentally foggy during wintertime.
The benefits of exercise go beyond your physical body. Staying active via regular exercise helps preserve longevity and overall health, but it also prompts positive effects on your brain and emotional state. Hitting the gym while suffering from seasonal depression is understandably difficult given a lack of motivation, so start slow. Take a long walk or practice an at-home yoga routine at least a few days per week. As the endorphins start to kick in, you’ll feel more energized and upbeat compared to lying in bed all day. Do not overexert yourself as this can lead to injury or exhaustion.
Physical or Mental Breaks
The holidays can be stressful. Sometimes, you need a break from everyday stress to clear your head and start anew. Visiting a bright and sunny locale will likely perk up your mood drastically, but career responsibilities, schoolwork or financial burdens may limit your ability to travel extensively. Consider taking a brief vacation over the winter, even if it’s just a road trip with the family to a nearby attraction. When travel isn’t an option, take a day to meditate or visit the spa. Centering your mind or pampering yourself are effective ways to lift your mood when seasonal affective disorder hits.
At Assure A Smile, we take a holistic approach to dentistry, bearing in mind how individual issues can drastically affect other aspects of your mind and body. If you regularly suffer from seasonal affective disorder and witness your dental health deteriorating due to depression, reach out to us at 305-274-0047 to schedule a personalized consultation.