Natural Ways to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Natural ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder | Natural remedies for seasonal depression | Natural remedies for depressionAre you one of the estimated 11 – 12 million Americans who struggle with the Winter Blues (aka. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “SAD” for short)?

If you or someone you love struggles with this, you’re definitely not alone. The good news though, is that there are natural ways to treat seasonal affective disorder that can help.

Known to affect young women three times more than any other group of people, SAD generally occurs in the winter, but can also occur in the summer months. Typically, it manifests as ‘the winter blues’ and in severe cases it can even require hospitalization.

Seasonal affective disorder is a legitimate diagnosis recognized by the medical community and should not be minimized.

 

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

To be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a medical professional will look for a pattern of at least two years of major depression that changes with (and coincides with) certain seasons.

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, symptoms commonly associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

  • Sadness and feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tendency to oversleep
  • Changes in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • A heavy, weighty feeling in the arms or legs
  • Low energy level
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to social alienation
  • Avoidance of social situations

Symptoms of summer SAD are:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation and anxiety

Either type of SAD may also include some of the symptoms that occur in a major depression, including feelings of guilt, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you usually enjoy, ongoing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or physical problems such as headaches and stomach aches.

As a society we need to recognize common challenges like this as an illness and support one another. It’s important that mental illness of all kinds be de-stigmatized so that people can get the help they need to live their best life.

 

Related: Homesteading With Anxiety: Tips For Getting Through the Dark Days

 

Although the cause is unclear, there is some evidence that SAD is related to the level of melatonin in the body.

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The production of melatonin is stimulated by darkness. This prepares the body for sleep. As winter days get shorter and darker, melatonin production in the body goes up and people start to feel sleepier and more lethargic during what would be their normal waking hours.

People with SAD may also produce less Vitamin D in the winter months because they are exposed to less sunlight. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with clinically significant depression symptoms.

While Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect anyone, it tends to be more prevalent in people living closer to the north or south poles than those who live closer to the equator. This is thought to be because people who live closer to the equator have the same number of daylight and nighttime hours year round and are not faced with the long winter nights and short days that come with living farther north or south. They also generally do not ‘spring forward or fall backward,’ like we do in America.

Family history of other types of depression can also make it more likely that someone will develop SAD between the ages of 18 -30, and it can last a lifetime.

So, what do you do when you realize you’re one of the millions affected by the winter blues?

 

Natural ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Disclaimer: This information is for entertainment and educational purposes only. If you are struggling with depression, please talk to your family doctor or health care provider about your available options. No one solution works the same for everyone. This blog is not a substitute for professional or medical advice.

>> Click here to read my full disclaimer.

For me, the safest approach is to treat SAD first with natural solutions. I recommend essential oils and a healthy dose of sunshine.

Let’s face it, we’re solar powered beings. Sunshine gives us energy and improves our mood.

Of course, all things in moderation. But beyond helping our bodies produce vitamin D and regulate melatonin and serotonin, sunlight offers us untold benefits.

You might also consider getting a light box and getting some light therapy. While good old fashioned sunshine is still recommended, light boxes can help trigger the brain to release melatonin and can help a lot of people who can’t get outside during the day.

Another alternative is to make it a priority to sit by a sunny window for a while each morning to soak in the suns’ healing rays.

 

Connect with nature and enjoy the little things to help beat the winter blues

In the dark, bitter cold days of midwinter when we’ve been deprived of quality time in the sunshine, it can be easy for almost anyone to and feel depressed and to overlook the tiny miracles that are happening all around us.

Signs of new life abound, even in the dead of winter!

Observe what I discovered on a walk in my yard in New Jersey this morning. Nestled between the seemingly frozen earth and a dusting of new snow is a reminder of spring… there is a blanket of moss just brimming with hearty, albeit tiny, vegetation.

Some people see weeds. I see signs of spring!

Nature finds a way to spring forth in some pretty harsh conditions. She shows us that adaptation and survival are possible, even in the most inhospitable of places.

Connecting with nature and appreciating the growth and signs of life all around us, even in winter can have a strong positive effect on our psyche and overall mental health. Aside from getting more sunshine (and fresh air), stopping to observe nature’s resilience and miracles even in the otherwise bleak midwinter helps us to feel grateful and hopeful, which can ward off feelings of seasonally-induced depression at this time of year.

 

Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder with fresh air

There was a time, not so long ago, when mothers were told to bundle up their children and take them out for a walk in their strollers to get them some fresh air and sunshine.

That has fallen out of vogue in recent years. But it’s still important. That fresh air and sunshine also helps you stay healthy, as most germs that will make you sick need to stay in the warm air of our homes.

Opening the windows on nice days and airing out the house comes from the same traditions.

Remember that when we’re depressed and stressed our immunity is suppressed. So, it’s critical we do all we can to support ourselves.

 

Essential oils for seasonal affective disorder

Another powerful, all-natural way to combat seasonal affective disorder is to incorporate some basic essential oils into your daily routine starting as soon as you feel the onset of depression.

I may be biased. (OK, I AM biased). But as a certified aromatherapist, I know that aromatherapy has the power to transform our mood. So why not employ a few drops of essential oils to boost your mood and get back on track?

If you’re accustomed to using essential oils, then you probably already know which oils you respond to best regarding elevating your mood and helping you feel grounded and return to a sense of emotional balance.

My personal favourite essential oils for uplifting mood are

  • Melissa
  • Vetiver
  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Neroli
  • citrus oils like Bergamot, Wild Orange, and Grapefruit

If you’re well-versed in using essential oils to help elevate your mood, then get them out and start diffusing. Remember, you only need a few drops to have a big impact on your mood and sense of wellbeing.

 

How to use essential oils to combat seasonal affective disorder

Essential oils are the life’s blood of certain plants and have been used for centuries to support healing and a sense of wellbeing. They are powerful and should never be left where small children could accidentally ingest them or spill them on their delicate skin.

 

Related: How to Get Started with Essential Oils

 

Additionally, caution must be exercised when using essential oils around the elderly or chronically ill. But used correctly, they offer natural support to help our bodies return to a state of homeostasis that promotes healing.

Only use essential oils that you can trust are responsibly sourced from reputable companies who are providing a pure and natural product.

At The House & Homestead, we recommend Plant Therapy essential oils for their quality, affordability and for the emphasis that Plant Therapy puts on safe use.

Start off by diffusing one oil at a time so you can evaluate the benefits of each oil. Remember, each person is unique, so what might be terrific for one person’s mood might stir up negative emotions for others. Until you smell the oils you can’t know for sure what memories might be associated with them.

Next, get an ionic diffuser or two.

I suggest you try the following oils for daytime diffusing if you’re struggling with S.A.D. or just need a pick me up:

  • Wild Orange
  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Cedarwood
  • Sandalwood
  • Neroli
  • Tangerine
  • Grapefruit

Start by diffusing 6 – 10 drops in a large diffuser for 2 – 4 hours and pause to evaluate how you’re feeling. Then try another oil and take note how that compared to the previous oil.

Once you’ve taken note of how each individual oil makes you feel consider blending 2 or 3 of them, but do not exceed a total of 6 – 10 drops at a time. This type of experimentation can be fun and has the added benefit of helping you feel empowered to take action to help support yourself.

Self-love is one of the most important things we can do to improve our overall mood and sense of wellbeing.

 

Related: 12 Free & Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care

 

A note of caution: citrus oils like orange, bergamot, tangerine, and grapefruit can be stimulating when diffused at night. They’re great for perking you up. But can make it difficult to sleep. So, listen to your body and see how each oil affects you personally.

Then once the sun goes down, try diffusing these oils overnight:

  • Lavender
  • Vetiver
  • Melissa
  • Frankincense
  • Neroli
  • Sandalwood

Try these oils individually in the nighttime for a couple of hours before bedtime. Should any one of them make you feel restless stop using it, rinse out your diffuser, and try another oil. They should help support relaxation and grounding and promote sleep. Only diffuse oils overnight that you have tried and gotten positive results with already.

Experiment with these nighttime oils as recommended for the daytime oils above. Let your body/mind be your guide in combining them when you’re aware of how they make you feel when you use them individually. Remember to not exceed 10 drops total in the diffuser at a time. It’s wasteful and frankly, unnecessary.

A word of advice: Clean your diffuser often to avoid build up of oils. It’ll function best when cleaned weekly, depending on use. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations.

You can also try some essential oil blends to help elevate your mood and calm anxieties this time of year. Here are a few to try:

 

Related: DIY Essential Oil Rollerballs for Fall & Winter

 

Feeling SAD?

Diffuse some essential oils and make time for a walk outside, preferably in nature. Take time to really see the forest for the trees (since there may not be able flowers to stop and smell just yet).

Get a healthy dose of sunshine (or at least some light therapy).

Open the windows and get some fresh air!

Meditate. Practice gratitude and enjoy the little things. Notice nature’s beauty all around you.

And lastly, remember that spring is just a few weeks away!

 

 


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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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First of all, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU for all of the support during this difficult time.

(See my last post from yesterday if you're not sure what I'm talking about).

Second, despite the lows of the past week, it does bring me joy to announce that I've opened up the doors to my Yes, You CAN! home canning course once again, and for a limited time only, I'm offering an additional $20 discount off the total cost of the course.

(Just use code TAKE20 at checkout).

Over the course of 12 video lessons, I'll walk you through everything you need to get started canning food (safely) at home.

You'll learn about canning safety and equipment, how to operate a water bath canner and a pressure canner, and I'll show you in detail how to can everything from jams and pickles to stocks and vegetables.

You'll also get some pretty awesome bonuses, including my Jams and Jellies 4-Part Mini-Series, my brand new Home Canning Handbook (complete with 30 of my favourite canning recipes), and access to our private Facebook group, where you can ask questions and get ongoing support.

Plus, if you enroll before midnight tomorrow night, you'll also get a free copy of my Herbal Infusions Masterclass and eBook, so you can preserve your herbs by making your own extracts, tinctures, oils and herbal medicines.

I hope you'll join me in putting up the harvest this preserving season.
While we may not have control over most things in life, this is one area where we have complete control, and that's a good and comforting feeling.

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/yesyoucan to learn more.

(Remember to use code TAKE20 at checkout to get your discount)

I hope you’ll join me in putting up the harvest this canning season.

While we may not have control over most things in life, this is one area where we have complete control, and that's a good and comforting feeling.
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We lost a baby last week.

We’ve now lost 4 pregnancies in a row, and every loss is heart-wrenching.

I still don’t have the words to describe what we’re going through, nor the heart to share everything right now. It’s tough to be a content creator whose job revolves around sharing your life with the world when your own world comes crashing down, over and over again.

While I’m in the very unlucky 1% of women who lose three or more pregnancies in a row, I know I’m not alone and that there are many more grieving mamas with broken hearts and unconditional love for their unborn babies.

We don’t talk enough about pregnancy loss and its impact on families. I hope to change that in my own small way as our own family continues to navigate this journey together, but right now we’re healing.

And today we’re celebrating our beautiful Earth Angel’s 5th birthday. I truly don’t know how or if I’d be able to cope with all of the losses without her, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

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I get a lot of questions about how to know if a canning recipe or method is safe.

Often times these messages come from people who have been handed down old canning recipes and cookbooks from their parents and grandparents, or have fond memories of old recipes but want to know if they’re safe to can according to today’s standards.

The fact is, many of the canning recipes and methods that our grandparents and even our parents used are no longer considered safe. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make them safe!

Join me this Saturday, July 24th for my free live training, How to Stock Your Pantry Like A Pro: 6 Simple Rules for Safe Home Canning.

I’ll teach you what you absolutely MUST know and do to ensure your home canned food is safe to eat, as well as how to safely adapt canning recipes and even how to take favourite recipes and make them safe for canning!

Plus I’ll be answering your canning questions live at the end of the training!

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In the meantime, leave your canning questions below👇 in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them all on Saturday!

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Sometimes when I look at our pantry full of home-canned food, even I find it hard to believe that I started canning just six years ago.

But while I’m 100% confident when it comes to canning food nowadays, I definitely didn’t start out that way.

When I canned my first batch of applesauce, I was so afraid that it would make my baby daughter sick that I refused to feed her a single spoonful, and I ate the rest with my fingers crossed that I’d live to tell the tale!

Then came my first batch of green beans. I hid around the corner as the pressure canner hissed and rattled, afraid it would blow up my kitchen. And after all was said and done, I was so scared to eat the beans that I had lovingly grown from seed and preserved that I ended up tossing every single jar in the garbage. Talk about a waste of food! (Not to mention time and effort).

After A LOT of time spent researching, learning and honing my canning skills, I now can HUNDREDS of jars of food each year, and I do so with absolute confidence knowing that each and every jar is safe to eat.

Nowadays I cringe when I see bad and even downright DANGEROUS canning advice floating around on the Internet (and sadly there’s A LOT of it out there). Because the last thing you want when you’re canning homegrown and/or homemade food for your family is to make them sick… or worse!

Luckily, canning food is 100% safe so long as you know the few simple rules you need to follow.

If you’re ready to start canning your own food at home so that you always have a pantry stocked with healthy, delicious and SAFE home-canned food to feed your family, ai’m hosting a free webinar this Saturday, July 24th where I’ll be teaching you the 6 simple rules for safe home canning, as well as how to safely tweak and adapt canning recipes, and even how you can take a favourite family recipe and make it safe to can.

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You may know him from his popular YouTube channel, @thejustinrhodesshow or like me, you may have first discovered him from his 2018 feature-length documentary, The Great American Farm Tour. Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have met him in person at one of the Homesteaders Of America conferences. Either way, odds are if you’ve been part of the modern homesteading world for any length of time, you’ve probably come across Justin Rhodes and his family before. And if you haven’t, then I'm thrilled to be the one to introduce you to the man of the hour!

A self-proclaimed "apron-wearing, permaculture chicken ninja-master," Justin opens up his permaculture homestead to almost one million people every week through his YouTube channel and inspires people to live a more sustainable and abundant life through homesteading, and specifically, through implementing permaculture principles and practices to their own homesteads in order to work smarter, not harder and produce more with less input.

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(Post 1/2)

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*** CONTEST CLOSED ***

Congratulations to our winner @suzi.mayhem !!! Check your DMs for a message from me on how to claim your prize!

🍀Are you feeling lucky???

Because it’s time for a GIVEAWAY!!!

To celebrate Modern Homesteading Magazine’s upcoming two-year milestone, and in appreciation of our current sponsor @planttherapy (my favourite essential oils company in the world), we’re giving away a one-year membership level subscription to Modern Homesteading Magazine, which includes unlimited access to our entire digital library of issues, PLUS a 7&7 Set of essential oils from Plant Therapy.

To enter:

✨Like this post
✨Make sure you’re following @thehouseandhomestead and @planttherapy
✨Tag as many friends as you like below who might also be interested in this giveaway (every person you tag = an entry to win!)
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You know the drill 😉

Contest ends Wednesday, July 14th at midnight PST. Winner will be announced on July 15th.

In the meantime, if you haven’t yet subscribed (for free) to receive new issues of Modern Homesteading Magazine straight to your inbox, head to the link in my bio to subscribe OR become a member and get access to all past issues right away! (If you win and you’re already a member, you can either choose to get your next year free once your membership is up for renewal, or you can gift your membership to a loved one:)

And if you wanna get your hands on the 7&7 Set (or any other Plant Therapy set), now is the time because right now you can save 20% on all Plant Therapy sets for a very limited time. Just enter code SETS20 at checkout OR enter code HOMESTEAD to get 10% off everything else site wide!

Links in bio @thehouseandhomestead to check out all of the above ☺️

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favour!
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Recipe link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/can-homemade-cherry-pie-filling/

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🍔 It took me 33 years to try making my own hamburgers from scratch.

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But if I’m being really honest, I never liked homemade burgers patties growing up. They were always dry and flavourless. My mom would bulk hers up with breads crumbs and huge chunks of onion, hardly any seasoning and then she’d cook them until they were charred and very well done. So when I grew up I found a grocery store brand that I liked and we always just bought those, along with some store-bought buns and called it good.

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