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Living in the Great Northwest means fighting the winter blues

 

February 8, 2018



Nothing beats the “Great Northwest,” right?

Lately, it seems all of us living in the area all want one thing…sunshine. It is amazing what the sun can do for our mental, physical and emotional well-being. It is a good thing February is a short month; a trip to the Caribbean or Bahamas sounds much more appealing than staying here in the “Great Northwest.”

According to Medical News Today, scientific research has pegged Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as a real occurrence in the winter months. It is caused by lack of sunshine and increase of clouds and inversions, which cause a disruption to our internal circadian rhythm, gifting many of us with adverse feelings similar to depression.

In addition to getting outside every day, letting in as much light as possible and perhaps even sitting by a light box, there are other behaviors to increase mood enhancing serotonin levels in our brains and bodies.

Daily physical activity, in the form of aerobic exercise, can boost serotonin and keep levels elevated post exercise, according to both Harvard and Princeton University research. Cheerful, happy music can improve sad feelings, so add some aerobic dancing for a double dose of mood enhancement.

Eating foods rich in Vitamin D are recommended to combat the effects of depression. These foods include salmon, tuna, sardines, swordfish, cod liver oil, eggs, milk and yogurt. The New York Times best-selling author Joseph Mercola, DO, recommends adults take a vitamin D supplement, as much as 5,000 IU per day. In addition, processed and refined foods such as white breads, rice and sugar tend to decrease energy level and negatively affect mood, and should be avoided.

University of Montreal studies indicate that laughter may increase your brain’s levels of serotonin, similar to exercise. Surrounding yourself with positive, fun-loving people doesn’t just make sense; it will actually improve your overall wellbeing.

Need a reason to get a massage? University of Miami School of Medicine released findings that massage can increase your brain and body’s serotonin levels. Other studies from Taiwan have also discovered the same effect when comforting the body through massage.

Although the effects of SAD range from person to person, there are some helpful actions that can be taken to ward off those mild, unwanted feelings. At least it is worth a try, until we get to experience more of that glorious sunshine.

 

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