Depression Detox: 5 Ways to Lighten Your Load
Oh February...the lull of the cold dark winter. No wonder it's the time when seasonal depression is at it's peak. According to Psychology Today, seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. The lack of sunlight has really negative effects on our bodies and minds, leaving us feeling heavy and unmotivated. The good news is... Mother Earth is slowly waking from her slumber - stretching and preparing to sprout her first buds of spring. It's the perfect time to align with that energy and do the same.
Here are five tips for nourishing your body, mind and spirit to shake off the weight of the winter blues.
1. Vitamin D
If you're feeling particularly down, the lack of this essential nutrient may be the cause. Vitamin D helps to maintain immune, digestive, bone and mental health. The sun is of course the main source of Vitamin D, so your main goal should be to get outside and soak it up. When that's not possible, taking a daily supplement is incredibly helpful, but there are some other ways you can insure you are getting enough of this nutrient. Incorporate vitamin D rich foods into your diet such as fatty fish and seafood like wild salmon and halibut. Egg yolks, mushrooms and spinach are also very high on the Vitamin D list. Another option is to purchase a light therapy lamp. While we can't do much about the weather and the sun setting at 5pm, it's helpful to be able to still enjoy the effects of the sun within our homes! If you suffer significantly from SAD, this may be the route for you.
A note from Melanie: In my early 30's, I began taking vitamin D in the winter and it's been a life changer! It's my fist line of defense when depression hits in the winter and usually the culprit of my February gloom.
2. Clean Eating
February is a turning point for your diet as we transition out of winter. An early spring food cleanse helps us to recuperate after a long winter of fatty, heavy foods. Our bodies are naturally preparing to purge (think of it as shedding your winter fur coat), so we may have less of an appetite. We still need some hearty meals on colder days so veggies like carrots and potatoes are good, but prioritize filling your plate with plenty of dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard and collards. Beets are great at purifying the liver and the blood, so think about including them into your salads or juices. Consider adding turmeric spice to your meals as it improves circulation, thins the blood and encourages cleansing of the lymphatic system.
*Side note: Any time you use turmeric in food, pair it with black pepper as the uber healthy curcumin from turmeric needs piperine to be absorbed by your body.
3. Sauna Bathing
Hitting the sauna is tremendously helpful when it comes to detoxification, but it also helps us to manage stress. Just a half an hour in a sauna has proven to lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and reduce pain, depression and anxiety.
4. Take a Mindful Hike
Getting outside whenever you can is a no-brainer, but you can make your morning walk a more spiritually beneficial act - a meditation if you will - by walking and seeing with intention. So much of what is happening within our bodies is happening in nature too. As our bodies begin to slowly warm up and our spirits come alive again... we can notice this wakefulness in the birds, the water rushing, and the sprouting daffodils and buds on the trees. The toxins in our body begin to melt away as the snow melts away. As temperatures raise little by little, the sap begins to run within the trees matching that of our own internal cardiovascular system. As you notice these moments, reflect and express gratitude that Mother Nature gifts us these little promises of spring.
5. Seed Starting
Audrey Hepburn once said "to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow", and she was so right! There is no better way to look forward to the future than to plan and begin starting seeds for your garden, and having something green to tend to can improve your mental state. One of my favorite things to do is flip through a seed catalog and draw up plans for my vegetable garden. While it may be too early for many plants to be outside, making moves on your plans will make you feel accomplished and prepared.