Still SAD? You May Want to Consider a Mid-Winter Vacation
Since writing my post about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I've had a ton of response from patients, friends, and family alike. It seems as though the winter blues is every bit as common as research shows.
Between then and now, I've also had the pleasure of taking a 10-day drip to Arizona.
And I realized I forgot one very, very important suggestion for dealing with SAD in a natural way: get a break from winter by taking a vacation.
While I'm sure it's tempting to book a holiday in the fall or winter, there's actual medical and mood-related reasons why you should make it a priority (especially if you know you suffer from SAD).
1. Vitamin D
Research shows a strong connection between low vitamin D levels in the body and depression, although scientists still don't quite understand how the connection works.
Here's the important part: Vitamin D can be taken in supplement form, but there's truly no greater way to absorb it than getting out in the sun.
Plus, spending time in the sun releases endorphins and contributes to feelings of relaxation and peacefulness.
Take that, SAD.
2. Screen-Free Time
Have you noticed that most of us go from our computer screen, to our phone's screen, to the TV screen and back again?
Spending time on screens puts our body into fight-or-flight mode, meaning our nervous system doesn't get the restful downtime it needs.
Electronic Screen Syndrome was coined by psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Dunkley in 2012, to explain the detrimental impacts of screen-time on children's development. Recently it's become apparent that adults, too, are highly affected by too much screen time - the constant fight-or-flight mode can create anxiety, depression, and overwhelm.
ESS will also exacerbate the symptoms of other disorders... like SAD.
A holiday in the sun is the perfect opportunity to put down devices and step away from screens, allowing your nervous system to rest and your SAD symptoms to dissipate.
3. Communicating with Real, Live People
Speaking of putting devices away, holidays are a great time to connect with loved ones, and meet new people. Without the pressure of day-to-day life, most people tend to open up and connect more easily, which goes a long way towards treating mood disorders.
Studies show that social isolation and feelings of loneliness are both an indication and a cause of the mood disorder. Stepping out of a world where you only connect with others via email or text message will boost your feelings of community, connection, and contentment.
4. A Vortex (or your Version of One)
While in Arizona I had a chance to visit Sedona, and was blown away! It's a gorgeous spot for so many reasons, and one thing that caught my attention were the Vortexes.
The Sedona website explains them like this:
A Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy. The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to its center everything that surrounds it, like a tornado. At these magical sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex.
Now, whether you believe in things like earth energy and magic or not (the jury's still out for me), over 4 million people a year come to Sedona for the Vortexes' healing powers.
My point: everyone should have a Vortex. Whether it's a natural mineral pool somewhere in the mountains, a seaside cabin, a volcanic sand beach in the tropics... having a place that feels healing for your body and mind can make all the difference to your mood, and make a mid-Winter vacation so much more worth it.
So there you have it - in case you needed an excuse to get away this winter. Make rest and care a priority, and you'll be amazed how your mood will respond.