Seasonal depression disorder is aka seasonal affective disorder, SAD, or the winter blues (in non-extreme cases). These natural remedies for SAD or seasonal depression disorder are from Dr George Pratt.
“There are many causes of seasonal depression, such as grieving the loss of a loved one, a cherished home or possessions, or a relationship,” says Dr Pratt, author of Instant Emotional Healing: Acupressure for the Emotions. “Those losses can make it hard to muster up happiness this time of year. December may bring back memories of holidays with loved ones who are no longer here. Or perhaps the annual gathering of family is something you dread rather than look forward to.”
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Dr Pratt has lots of experience with natural ways to overcome feelings of sadness. To learn more about seasonal depression, Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
And, here are his tips for beating the winter blues or overcoming SAD…
Seasonal Depression Disorder – Natural Remedies for SAD
1. Take proper care of yourself. Yes, you’ve heard it a zillion times, but that’s because it’s good advice for overcoming depression: get rest, eat right, and get exercise. Try to walk outdoors every day. Exercise, fresh air and natural light are a powerful combination for elevating your spirits.
2. Set reasonable expectations. Too many of us set irrationally high standards for ourselves, especially during the holidays: shopping, cooking, baking, decorating, sending cards, and attending every event we’re invited to. It can be hard enough to keep up even if you’re feeling great! Give yourself a break-and permission to say no. To overcome seasonal depression, prioritize who you want to be around and how to spend your time.
3. Make connections with other people. I’m not talking about connecting with people at parties or holiday events. A natural remedy for depression is to make connections that renew your spirit. Interact with people less fortunate than you, perhaps by volunteering at a shelter or hospital. Connect spiritually at your church or temple. Connect with nature by taking a walk through a park or along the coast.
4. Acknowledge your feelings of sadness. Recent findings show that when we are able to identify and label how we are feeling, we activate other parts of the brain-with very healthy and positive effects. Science shows us that if you label your feelings and, ideally, express them to someone else, both your mood and your immune system benefit.
5. Train your brain to be positive. If you focus too much on what’s wrong in your life, your brain can get stuck in a “negative” rut. Fortunately, with just a little effort, you can condition your brain to balance your moods and overcome seasonal depression disorder. One way is to create a daily “gratitude list.” Every day, take a minute or two to make a conscious effort to name things in life you are grateful for: your family, dog or cat, warm bed, a hot shower, ocean waves, music, coffee, and so on. This natural remedy for SAD conditions your brain for appreciation and happiness.
6. Be kind to others – and gentle with yourself. Also ranking high in the studies of what helps people to be optimistic and healthy is helping others. Recently, a customer in the drive-thru line at a Pittsburgh-area Starbucks paid for the coffee of the customer behind her. That customer was so pleased that she then paid for person behind her. The chain continued for two hours! You don’t have to make a grand gesture. To overcome seasonal depression disorder, smile at someone on the street, hold a door open, wave someone into you lane on the freeway.
7. Laugh – one of the best natural remedies for SAD. Laughter is invigorating. It recharges your battery. There are all kinds of studies showing how good laughter is for your brain, your health and your immune system. It’s good for your mood, your immune system, and holiday depression. To overcome seasonal depression disorder, find a reason to laugh every day — all the better if you can find the humor in your relatives’ annoying habits or the little things that usually stress you out!
8. Get help with seasonal depression you need it. If you’re still feeling sad in spite of making efforts to improve your mood, or if you are losing sleep, feeling irritable or hopeless, or having trouble getting through daily activities, call your psychologist or physician. You may need light therapy for seasonal depression, psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two to start feeling better and overcoming holiday depression.
For more tips, read How to Overcome Seasonal Depression and the Winter Blues.
If you have any questions or thoughts on overcoming seasonal depression disorder or SAD, I welcome your comments below.
George Pratt, Ph.D., is the chair of the psychology department at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.