7 Tips to Help You Combat the Winter Blues
Updated: Feb 24
Learn how these seven complementary healthcare modalities can help you alleviate the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Author: Meagan Roback, RMT
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder related to the time of year that may leave you feeling lethargic and moody. A type of depression, it typically begins and ends around the same times every year, with the onset of symptoms occurring in the fall and continuing (sometimes worsening) into the winter months. Although less common, some individuals may feel depressive symptoms in the spring or early summer.
In Canada, between 2-3% of people will experience SAD at some point in their life, while another 15% will experience a less severe form of SAD that leaves them able to live their life without major disruptions (source: Canadian Mental Health Association BC).
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may include (source: Mayo Clinic):
Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having low energy
Having problems with sleeping
Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
You don’t have to ‘tough it out’ all by yourself, you can (and should) take steps to support your mental health and wellbeing. Seeking professional medical and psychological help is key and there are complementary healthcare modalities that can support:
Chiropractic care: Spinal misalignments can affect the nerve pathways that communicate to various parts of the body, inhibiting proper signals our body requires to function. Providing an adjustment can help improve these pathways to the brain. Chronic pain is also sometimes associated with depression. Alleviating pain in the body with proper alignment techniques can help remove the source of the depression (pain).
Massage therapy: Studies show that massage therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress - all that have an affect on mental health. Touch itself can be an elixir for the body; it’s been shown to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) and increase ‘feel good’ hormone (serotonin and oxytocin) levels in the brain. Massage provides a sense of well-being and a deep feeling of relaxation, amongst other benefits.
Naturopathic medicine: Dietary changes and supplements can have a positive effect on mood and cognition. Proper nutrition can help the brain and the entire body function optimally. Proper exercise is also beneficial for the brain as it releases endorphins that can help elevate mood. Many naturopathic doctors also have experience applying acupuncture techniques that can help support the function of neurotransmitters in the body.
Yoga and Movement therapy: With movement alongside meditation, the mind calms and we are able to replace our doubts, worries or other stressors with inner wisdom, self-confidence, self-love, intuition and awareness of the self. This practice grounds us in the present moment and promotes radiant health and wellbeing. The breathing practices increase our life-force energy (prana); used for self-healing, healing to others, increased vitality, and self-development. Proper breathing is an effective remedy to combat and transform the effects of stress by supplying the brain with the extra oxygen it requires.
Reiki: Apart from the physical side of mental illnesses, there’s also an emotional side. Reiki is a very calming and relaxing modality that can alleviate emotional symptoms that come up with depression and anxiety. It, too, can help alleviate the effects of chronic pain and its negative effects on mood.
Counselling: Moving more towards the effects of the heavy mind on the body, when you are overwhelmed or stressed you inevitably slow down, often in multiple ways. When the mind is overloaded or excessively stressed, your brain and mental cognition is working double and at times triple overtime which is exhausting all your energy sources. Talking with a professional can be highly effective in sorting out your thoughts, and learning helpful techniques to process your experiences in a more balanced manner.
Homeopathic medicine: Homeopathy has a wide range of naturally occurring plant essences that calm the mind and body. When there is a need of a re-direct within the mind, body or any aspect of the nervous system, consider this powerful avenue of natural medicine.
Overall, there are a number of modalities that can help support professional medical and psychological treatments for mental disorders. The importance is talking with your doctor and coming up with a plan of action that works for you.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole discretion.