If you find yourself feeling down during the winter months, you are not alone. According to statistics, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts up to 20% of the population — with rates higher among women and younger people.1
Signs You Might Be Suffering From SAD
- Sadness, feeling depressed most of the day, every day
- Carbohydrate cravings and weight gain
- Extreme fatigue and lack of energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling irritated or agitated
- Limbs (arms and legs) that feel heavy.
- Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, including withdrawing from social activities
- Sleeping problems (usually oversleeping)1
Stress, a lack of sunshine, and fewer opportunities for exercise all play a role in the winter blues. The good news is, you can boost your mood with targeted approaches that not only lift your spirits but also ease stress and enhance your overall health. The best part? Natural tips and tricks work all year long to brighten your mood and improve your mental outlook — and not just during the winter.
Some of the best therapies for SAD include mood foods and nutrients such as vitamin D and fatty fish, movement, immune support, light box therapy, and herbal aids for stress and depression.
1. Reduce Winter Blues with Vitamin D
Vitamin D3 is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body produces it in response to sun exposure. Less sunlight during the winter means many people experience vitamin D3 deficiency this time of year—a factor in seasonal as well as other forms of depression. Supplementing with daily D3 can be an effective way to support a healthy mood.2 It is also a good idea to get your vitamin D level checked periodically with a blood test to assess your status and customize your dosage. Also, keep in mind that you cannot synthesize vitamin D through a window. So, in addition to a daily supplement, try to get 5–10 minutes outside in the winter for optimal vitamin D production.
2. Nourish Your Mind & Body with Mood Nutrients
Omega-3s: Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids may help relieve occasional depression. Omega-3 fats from oily fish like mackerel and salmon support neurological and brain health, and studies show they may be helpful to reduce symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that can support a healthy mood. The body converts tryptophan — found in foods like turkey, fish, whole grains, and spinach — into serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to be involved in mood, sleep, appetite, energy production and more.
B-complex vitamins, especially folate, B6, and B12, are intricately involved in mood and stress. In fact, a little-known cause of depression is an elevated level of homocysteine, a marker of cardiovascular disease. The active form of folate (5-MTHF) has been shown to help reduce homocysteine and improve depression. Other research identifies folate as an effective remedy for depression.3 Additionally, both vitamins B6 and B12 are involved in producing brain chemicals related to mood and other brain functions. Low levels of both have been tied to depression.4 Good food sources of B vitamins red meat, poultry, tuna, salmon, eggs, chickpeas, dairy, peanuts, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.
3. Move Your Body — Even If It’s Cold Outside
It is important to get regular exercise year-round, even during the colder months. Getting enough exercise is a cornerstone for overall health and wellness. It is especially helpful when you are feeling down because exercise releases endorphins, a group of hormones that enhance memory and brain function, mood and more.
4. Reset Your Natural Rhythms
Making sure you get enough exposure to bright light in the darker days of winter can help reset your rhythms, by mimicking the light exposure you would get from a longer day with earlier sunrise and a later sunset time. Artificial light is helpful for this since bright daylight might be limited this time of year. Specialized light therapy boxes designed for winter light exposure can make a difference in easing depression, optimizing melatonin production for deeper, more restful sleep, and helping to increase energy throughout the day.5
5. Supplement with Medicinal Mushrooms
Battling the flu or a nasty cold is enough to make anyone feel down in the dumps. To sidestep illness this winter (and keep your spirits up), reinforce your immune system with medicinal mushrooms. These nutrient-dense remedies work to optimize immune function, boost energy levels (especially important in SAD patients), and support numerous additional areas of overall health. ecoNugenics MycoPhyto Complex is a researched blend of six botanically-cultivated beneficial mushrooms that work to maintain immunity and support overall wellness—not just during winter but all year long.*
6. Brighten Your Day with Magnolia Bark Extract
One of the best ways to support relaxation and a healthy mood in winter (and year-round) is with honokiol, a compound extracted from Magnolia officinalis bark. This remedy is an ancient staple of traditional Chinese herbalism that was commonly used to address anxiety. EcoNugenics HonoPure is 98% purified Honokiol extract. HonoPure works to support a healthy mood in part by helping to regulate GABA production. It is also a powerful antioxidant that crosses the blood-brain barrier to support cognitive function in numerous ways. HonoPure is an excellent natural solution to support restful sleep and a healthy mood. At higher doses, it is a powerful cellular health agent, helping to promote optimal cellular health and immune system function.*
Physical health and mental/emotional health are intimately connected. As your body becomes stronger and healthier with the right foods, natural therapies, and targeted natural supplements, then happiness, relaxation, brain function and vitality are bound to increase as well. Overall, these self-care practices help nourish the positive outlook and energy you need to optimize health and wellness for life.
Supplements for SAD
HonoPure is 98% pure honokiol— an extensively researched, highly active extract purified from Magnolia officinalis bark. HonoPure provides a remarkable range of potent benefits, including healthy mood, cognitive and neurological support, cellular regulation, relaxation, and more.*
MycoPhyto botanically enhanced mushroom formula featuring a blend of six medicinal mushrooms. These powerful healing remedies deliver intensive immune support for occasional colds and flu, with additional benefits for energy production and optimal wellness. The mushrooms are grown on a blend of potent botanicals for maximum immune support and vitality.*
- Sarkar, Sonali. Vitamin D for Depression with a Seasonal Pattern: An Effective Treatment Strategy. International Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Journal. 2017;1.10.15406
- Farah A. The role of L-methylfolate in depressive disorders. CNS Spectr. 2009;14(1 Suppl 2):2-7
- Mikkelsen K, et al. The effects of vitamin B in depression. Current Medicinal Chemistry. 2016; 23:1
- Culnan E, McCullough LM, Wyatt JK. Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Phase Disorders. Neurol Clin. 2019 Aug;37(3):527-543