With cooler temperatures and shorter days setting in, I wanted to share some helpful ways to beat the winter blues and manage your mood naturally.
I have a few loved ones who start to struggle at this time of year. They shudder at the ever earlier sunsets, and they long to travel somewhere warm and sunny. They likely are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which means they have depressive symptoms during the same season year after year, but otherwise and at other times have a healthy mental state.
There certainly are times and places for antidepressant medications. However, for most cases of depression and anxiety, especially the more mild ones, these medications are ineffective or not worth the side effects. So whether you suffer from SAD or something like it, or you struggle more consistently with depression or anxiety (like I have), here are some natural ways to help boost your mood. Starting early will ensure that your blood levels of these nutrients will be sufficiently high to decrease the odds of feeling any depression or anxiety symptoms as the darker months arrive.
So, on top of limiting your sugar intake and eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, there are a handful of easy-to-find and easy-to-use supplements that can be very helpful in lifting your mood this fall or any time of year.
Vitamin D3: If you haven’t had your vitamin D levels tested yet, this is a great time to do it. Chances are you’re low, especially if you struggle with seasonal blues. Your sadness at having less sunlight is appropriate – decreased light, and time spent outside, reduce’s your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D levels through sun exposure. Get some safe sunlight exposure as much as possible during the dark months, and to ensure appropriate levels, take a quality vitamin D3 supplement. Adequate vitamin D has been shown to increase mood substantially, and low levels are a major contributor to depression and anxiety.
Omega-3 fats, specifically EPA and DHA: They help decrease inflammation, especially in the brain. Inflammation in the brain can cause depression and anxiety. Also, your brain is made up of fat, and about 60% of it is DHA. Your brain will function much better if you get enough DHA.
Shoot for 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily and enough fish oil to get at least a gram of EPA and DHA– the Omega 3 fatty acids you must have for good brain health. Higher quality supplements will have higher amounts of EPA and DHA in their formula, meaning you can take fewer pills.
B vitamins: Having ample B vitamin levels is critical in maintaining a happy mood. Take a high quality multi-B vitamin that gives you ample doses of the main B’s (25-100 mcg of niacin, riboflavin, thiamine), 100-200 mg B6, 800+ mcg folate, and up to 1,000 mcg of B12. If adding these Bs doesn’t seem to help, be sure to get your levels tested, and consider taking the activated forms of B6, B9 (folic acid / folate) and B12.
Vitamin C: Everything works better with C. Make sure you get 1,000 – 3,000 mg each day.
Minerals: Make sure you’re getting 100-200 mcg of chromium and selenium, as well as 200-500 mg of magnesium (which should be coupled with 200-1,000 mg of calcium).
SAMe: One supplement I really like is called SAMe, which helps with mood and joints (will work great just for mood). It generally comes in 200mg pills (make sure they are encased in foil, which is the only packaging method that maintains SAMe’s efficacy), and you can take 200 – 1600 mg a day.
Rhodiola rosea: This is a great adaptogenic herb for mood. Try 200mg 2x / day.
These can all significantly improve mood anytime of year. But if winter is normally a rough time for you, these nutrients can help you get through those gloomy days with a smile…a genuine one. And as an added benefit, they’ll also help you avoid all those nasty colds and flus that your friends are going to try to give you. You’re welcome. 😉