As the seasons change, so do our moods and energy levels. For many, the shift from summer to autumn and winter brings with it a specific kind of melancholy known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). While external factors like diminishing sunlight play a role, our internal choices, especially regarding diet and holistic practices, can significantly influence our resilience against SAD. In this guide, we delve into the power of food, physical movement, and traditional therapies to arm ourselves against this seasonal challenge.
Eating appropriate foods can be a powerful ally in our fight against seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The foods we choose can play a significant role in enhancing our mood and overall well-being during specific times of the year.
To equip our bodies with the right nutrients for each season, it’s essential to choose locally grown, seasonal foods. These offer the freshest source of vitamins and minerals. When foods are minimally processed, they retain the maximum nutritional benefits, helping our bodies thrive.
Autumnal dietary recommendations
As the leaves change colour, so should our plates. The autumn season beckons an increased intake of vitamin A. Foods rich in this vitamin, such as carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkins, are not only delicious but also offer multiple health benefits. They protect our nervous system, fortify our immune system, and contribute to strong bone health.
To stabilise mood swings, it’s best to consume complex carbohydrates. Whole grains, beans, lentils, and vegetables are perfect choices. For those seeking potent nutrition, sprouted seeds are a top pick due to their enzyme-rich content. They also provide an excellent protein source. Fermented foods, known for aiding serotonin production in the gut, come highly recommended. Additionally, medicinal mushrooms, such as Coriolus and Lions Mane, support cognitive function, and natural supplements like Alpha Lipoic Acid can enhance mood.
The role of vitamin D in mood regulation
Vitamin D stands out as a vital mood stabiliser. Maintaining optimal levels of this nutrient is crucial for hormone production. This vitamin also facilitates DNA activation for protein synthesis across various cell types. To gauge your vitamin D levels, consider taking a “blood-spot test” offered by an NHS laboratory. But be aware that while the test gives you a measurement, it doesn’t interpret the results or advise on actions. To harness the benefits of vitamin D naturally, try to soak up 20 minutes of morning sunlight daily.
Physical movement as an antidote to depression
Staying active is more than just good for the body; it’s beneficial for the mind. Physical activity releases mood-enhancing endorphins and serotonin. As autumn is the yin season, practising yin yoga can be especially advantageous for those affected by SAD. This form of yoga encourages calmness, grounding, and introspection, making it an ideal antidote to depression.
Acupuncture as a treatment for SAD
From the lens of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), diseases arise from imbalances between yin and yang. Acupuncture aims to restore this balance and augment the body’s innate healing prowess. By identifying the root causes and tackling energetic discrepancies, acupuncture has shown promise in addressing depression and various other disorders. Specifically, during the sun-deprived yin cycles, acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms associated with kidney stagnation, which TCM links to feelings of coldness, dampness, and depression.
The battle against seasonal affective disorder is multifaceted, requiring both awareness and proactive measures. By integrating dietary choices, physical movement, and traditional therapies, we can cultivate a holistic strategy to not only combat SAD but also enhance our overall well-being. As the seasons shift, let’s remember that our choices can empower us to embrace change with resilience and optimism.
Melissa Day is a distinguished professional in integrative and preventive medicine. She is an acupuncturist at Niroshini360. Her specialty lies in microsystems acupuncture, rooted in traditional Chinese medicine.