In winter, the days are shorter, darker, and colder, causing many of us to hibernate inside until spring. Sure, it’s warmer indoors, but your body needs exposure to natural light (even on cold cloudy days) to improve your sleep patterns, focus, motivation, and mood. Without sunlight (or some light), you’re more susceptible to feeling a mental and physical slump, ranging from a mild case of the “winter blues” to the more serious, seasonal depression known as SAD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that’s triggered by the changing seasons. Decreased sunlight in the winter disrupts your internal clock and reduces the brain’s serotonin levels—the “feel good” fuel your body and mind need for optimal well-being. Symptoms of winter depression include:
• Feelings of sadness
• Lack of energy
• Loss of interest in usual activities
• Weight gain
Luckily, there are plenty of healthy ways to avoid getting SAD in the winter without taking risky meds:
• Exercise (head outside if there’s no wind chill warning)
• Light therapy (a light box is good, but sunlight is better)
• Vitamin D (preferably from sunshine, not supplements)
• Aromatherapy (AROMAFLORIA products contain calming, mood-boosting essential oil blends)
So, get out from under the blanket, layer up, and head outside for some exercise and vitamin D. When you come back in, keep the good vibes rolling with aromatic healing.
Let’s take a closer look at how aromatherapy helps with seasonal depression...
Aromatherapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
For most people, the “winter blues” and “blahs” settle in around November. Unfortunately, the sad and sluggish symptoms tend to worsen in December, January, and February when the days get shorter and darker. If left untreated, the winter doldrums can quickly turn into a deep depression.
Although aromatherapy isn’t a cure for seasonal affective disorder, studies have shown that certain aromatic essential oils help to improve your mood, motivation, and sleep when you suffer from SAD.
Lavender essential oil has been used for centuries to deliver all-over calm and promote deeper sleep. People with SAD often suffer from insomnia due to increased melatonin levels that disrupt healthy sleep cycles. Despite feeling exhausted all day, an overproduction of melatonin (the sleep hormone) actually prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. Turns out, too much melatonin in your body is a bad thing. Lavender essential oil promotes the calm and balance your body and mind need for restorative sleep.
Citrus essential oils (Lemon, Bergamot, Orange) smell like sunshine in a bottle. Uplifting, citrusy scents help to boost serotonin and dopamine levels (happy hormones), which improve your mood, focus, and concentration. Plus, citrus essential oils smell delicious.
Peppermint essential oil delivers a revitalizing zing that motivates your SAD self to get up and get moving. Peppermint essential oil also improves exercise performance to help you feel fitter during the dark, winter days.
How to Use Essential Oils for SAD
Remember, essential oils are concentrated, so just a few drops will do...
Diffusion: Mix aromatic oils and water in an essential oil diffuser for a quick mood boost. The diffuser disperses tiny oil particles throughout the room, so you can breathe in the uplifting benefits. Be sure to follow your diffuser’s directions for the correct oil-to-water ratio.
Nasal sticks and pouches: Use personal inhalation sticks and pouches for pop-in-your-purse, aromatic relief as needed for SAD symptoms.
Aromatherapy massage: Combine healing essential oils with comforting human touch to restore emotional well-being and help you feel ahhhh-mazing all over.
Aromatic bath: Add aromatic bath bubbles and bath salts to the tub to create a sudsy, restorative retreat.
Aromatherapy delivers powerful, natural healing for SAD symptoms. Have a happy, healthy winter.