With a brand new start to another year (and all the doom and gloom in the news lately) we may want to pay a little more attention to our physical and emotional well-being. One condition that can make us feel sick and/or tired and can also trigger anxiety and depression is a condition called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD for short.

Also known as winter depression, it is reported that millions of people are affected by this biological imbalance, thought to be caused by the shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight during the winter months. SAD usually occurs between the months of September and April and is noticeable more acute during December, January and February. There is also a rarer form of SAD, known as summer SAD, or summer depression, which usually begins in late spring or early summer.

Although awareness of this condition has existed for more than a hundred years, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s before it was recognized as a disorder. Many people who suffer from SAD may not even be aware that it exists or there is help available to them. People who suffer from these winter blues can experience anything from mild discomfort to the more extreme, which can prevent them from functioning normally and even possibly lead them to the need for antidepressant drugs and medical treatment.

There is no confirmed cause of SAD however continuing research suggests SAD is related to seasonal variations in light. Our “biological internal clock” located in our brain regulates daily rhythms and responds to changes in seasons and the differences in the length of the day. The cycle of human life has been revolving around this cycle of daylight and darkness for thousands of years. People were active during the day and rested at night. With the advent of electricity we no longer change according to the seasons, putting us out of step with the natural cycle of human life. Other research is also showing that the neurotransmitters in the brain that help regulate mood, appetite and sleep may also be affected with SAD.

Some symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, feelings of anxiety and despair, decreased energy, cravings for sweet or starchy foods and weight gain. With most people, symptoms usually disappear in the spring.

People who experience mild symptoms of SAD can benefit from a variety of easy and natural treatments. Unfortunately, people who are affected more severely may have to work out a treatment plan (such as “Light Therapy”) with a health care provider, who is knowledgeable about SAD and familiar with the treatments.

Some easy and natural treatments you can practise to help with SAD are:

Increase your exposure to light: spend more time outdoors during the daylight hours. If you work indoors, make a habit of taking a walk outdoors during your lunch hour and/or breaks. Keep your curtains open in your home during the day to let the light in. Position your furniture to receive maximum exposure to sunlight and trim any tree branches that block the light. Add a skylight to brighten a dark room and position lamps to increase the light indoors.

Exercise: increases your physical, mental and emotional well-being and relieves stress. If you exercise indoors, positioning yourself near a window helps to increase light exposure. Exercising outdoors (such as walking) will help increase your exposure to natural light and lift up your spirits.

Monitor your sleep patterns: make sure you are receiving adequate sleep every night. Getting seven to eight hours of regularly scheduled sleep, particularly during the colder months, is very important.

Watch your diet: cut down or eliminate junk foods that are laden with fats and sugars, and reduce the amount of packaged and processed foods you consume. Avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, rich whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, unprocessed oils and fats and drug-free and free-range eggs and meats and drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated. As always, the best source of nutrients we require are from a balanced and varied diet rich in health supporting foods, however we may need to supplement our diets with extra nutrients to ensure we are receiving adequate nutrition to help our physical and mental well-being. The whole food products and nutritional supplements AIM provides can help fill that void for maintaining or improving emotional, mental and physical health.

Laugh: watch a funny movie or have a few friends over for a good laugh. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

So if you’re feeling blue during the winter months and don’t quite know what to do about it, just try some of these tips to help get you back in the pink again. A little extra light in your life can make all the difference along with a healthy diet, adequate sleep and some outdoor activities. The next time you feel a little down just ask yourself…Are you SAD?

For more information on AIM’s whole food products and nutritional supplements, please visit My AIM Store website at http://awealthofhealth.myaimstore.com where you can read more, download a data sheet or watch a video.

Author's Bio: 

A Product Consultant and Member of The AIM Companies for over twenty years, Joanne takes pride in sharing her knowledge of nutrition and the AIM products with others. As an advocate of healthy eating and proper nutrition, Joanne understands that the choices we make, and choosing them wisely, is the key to wellness. Sign up for her informative free newsletter by visiting awealthofhealth.myaimstore.com.