Natural rhythms rule our lives. Consider the change of seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, our daily schedules of work and life activities. Dive within to find the rhythms of our breath, heartbeat, and the balance and pulsing of activities within our immune, gastrointestinal, endocrine and neurological systems all affect us day and night.
The waning exposure to daylight as we shift from fall to winter is no exception. During these months, you may notice a tendency toward sadness, fatigue, or trouble focusing. If you do, you’re certainly not alone. It’s estimated that 10-20% of the population experiences seasonal variations in mood and energy levels.
A little variation in mood or energy levels is normal as our internal 24-hour clock (AKA circadian rhythm) adjusts. However, if these changes become significant enough to interfere with daily activities, then seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be at play.
In over 60 years of clinical practice, Dr. Emmons and I have witnessed that natural approaches can be very effective for the majority of folks dealing with SAD. More severe versions can be effectively treated in a number of conventional ways, including the use of antidepressant medications and talk therapy.
For the northern hemisphere, natural prevention strategies work best if you begin in late September through October and keep up your routine until April. Haven’t started anything yet? No worries! It’s good to start early for prevention and to build up a foundation, but it’s never too late to benefit from the strategies listed below (but, start now!).