Fortunately, there are natural methods that help to alleviate the winter blues. Unfortunately, all too often, the connection between a healthy lifestyle and a healthy mood state is overlooked. It is well known that exercise and other natural methods are effective at alleviating depression symptoms. My natural protocol for depression has helped many sufferers of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) improve their symptoms without the risks and side effects associated with antidepressant medications. Even for those who do not suffer a mood disorder, it is common to experience some decline in mood during the winter.
Benefit of Exercise for the Winter Blues
Exercise is known to be as effective as antidepressant drugs or cognitive behavioral therapy for improving the symptoms of depression and the winter blues. Exercise works by increasing the production of serotonin, a mood-elevating neurotransmitter, which is often low in those with depression. The combination of aerobic exercise plus strength training is better than aerobic exercise alone, and yoga has also been shown to improve symptoms.1-4
The Benefit of Light Exposure the Winter Blues
In the winter, we tend to spend most of the day’s sunlit hours indoors, at work, or just staying warm at home. Exposure of the retina to morning light helps the brain to properly regulate its production of melatonin and therefore, our sleep-wake cycle; inadequate light exposure during the winter can disrupt this cycle.
During the winter, if getting natural sunlight isn’t possible, a therapeutic light is an effective substitute; it corrects the body’s clock, restores normal melatonin production, and stimulates the production of serotonin.5