5 Natural Ways To Boost Your Mood During SAD

Posted May 26, 2023 by Cristina Vrech

Cristina Vrech - Individual and couples therapist

Cristina Vrech

Founder and Director - Individual & Couple Therapist, Corporate Services

Co-founder and director of Leone Centre, Cristina Vrech, has 20+ years of experience in working and supporting people, 14+ years of extensive experience as a therapist and offers valuable knowledge to individuals and couples. Prior to being a therapist, she worked in the financial sector.

Cristina takes a down-to-earth and direct approach across the landscapes of relationships, communication, stress, infidelity, confidence, loneliness, addiction, separation and divorce, IVF, and anxiety.

Offering Online Counselling and in person counselling.

Cristina Vrech can help with...

Here in this blog, we have explored five ways for you to boost your mood during SAD, but what is SAD? SAD is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder and is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually in the fall and winter months, as a result of a lack of sun. There are many signs associated with SAD that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.

The signs of SAD include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of interest or pleasure
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings
  • Weight gain and cravings
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Social withdrawal

While medication and therapy can be effective approaches for SAD, natural remedies can also help boost mood and reduce symptoms.

Mood Boosters for SAD

Exercise

Due to its numerous benefits, regular exercise can be a valuable tool in managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Engaging in physical activity helps increase the production of endorphins, natural mood-boosting chemicals that can alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety associated with SAD. Additionally, exercise promotes the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. By elevating serotonin levels, exercise can help combat the low mood often experienced with SAD. Furthermore, regular physical activity improves sleep quality, often disrupted in individuals with SAD, improving mood and well-being. When exercising outdoors, individuals also benefit from increased exposure to natural light, which helps regulate the body’s internal clock and promotes the production of mood-enhancing vitamin D. Moreover, exercise serves as a healthy distraction and stress relief, providing an outlet for negative emotions and offering a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Additionally, engaging in group exercise activities can provide social interaction and support, which is particularly important for individuals with SAD who may experience social withdrawal.

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To incorporate exercise into your daily routine, try going for a walk or jog, joining a workout class, or doing a home workout using YouTube videos or fitness apps. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week.

Light therapy

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposing the eyes to bright light using a lamp specifically used for light therapy. Light therapy can help regulate the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and improve mood in people with SAD.

To try light therapy at home, you can purchase a light therapy lamp and use it for a set period of time each day, typically in the morning. Alternatively, you can get your daily dose of bright light by going for a walk outside during daylight hours.

Nutrition

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for maintaining good mental health. Certain foods may have a particularly positive effect on mood, including fatty fish (such as salmon and sardines), leafy greens (like spinach and kale), and nuts and seeds (such as almonds and chia seeds).

Incorporating these mood-boosting foods into your meals and snacks can help improve your overall well-being during SAD. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and limit your intake of sugary and processed foods, which can hurt your mood.

Mindfulness and relaxation

Practising mindfulness and relaxation can help reduce stress and improve mood. Examples include meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. These activities can help you focus on the present moment and let go of negative thoughts and feelings.

You can incorporate mindfulness and relaxation into your daily routine by setting aside a few minutes each day to practice. There are many apps and online resources that can guide you through these activities.

Enough sleep and more

Many natural remedies may help improve mood and reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are a few additional ideas:

  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining good mental health. During the fall and winter months, it may be helpful to create a bedtime routine to help you wind down and get a good night’s rest.
  • Try herbal remedies: Some herbs, such as St. John’s wort have been shown to have antidepressant properties and may help improve mood in people with SAD. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking any herbal remedies, as they can interact with medications and have potential side effects.
  • Connect with others: Social support is an important factor in mental health. During the fall and winter months, it can be easy to feel isolated, but connecting with others can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of loneliness. Consider joining a support group, making plans with friends and family, or volunteering.
  • Engage in enjoyable activities: Engaging in activities that you enjoy can help lift your mood and improve your overall well-being. This could include hobbies, creative pursuits, or outdoor activities.
  • Try aromatherapy: Some essential oils, such as lavender and bergamot, may have a calming effect and help improve mood. Aromatherapy can be done using diffusers, candles, or by applying oils topically (diluted in a carrier oil).

Can Counselling Help With SAD?

Counselling can be a powerful tool for healing and transformation for individuals experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In transpersonal therapy, the focus is on the person as a whole, including their spiritual and higher purpose. This approach can help individuals with SAD explore the deeper meaning and purpose behind their suffering and find ways to connect with their inner wisdom and sense of connection to something greater than themselves.

A person-centred approach, which values the individual’s subjective experience and personal growth, can also be helpful for individuals with SAD. In this approach, the therapist creates a safe and non-judgmental space for the individual to explore their feelings and experiences and works with the person to help them find their path and make positive changes in their life.

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An integrative approach, which combines elements of different theories and methods, can also be effective in treating SAD. This approach allows the therapist to structure their approach to the unique needs and preferences of the individual.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) are approaches that can be beneficial. CBT focuses on helping individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours, IPT focuses on improving relationships and communication, and DBT teaches skills for managing emotions and reducing distress.

Counselling can be done in individual or group sessions and can be done in person or online. It is important to find a licensed therapist who is experienced in treating SAD and whom you feel comfortable working with. Working with a therapist can help you access your inner wisdom, develop coping strategies, improve your relationships, and enhance your overall well-being.

In conclusion, SAD can have a significant impact on mood, but there are natural remedies that can help boost your well-being. Exercise, light therapy, nutrition, mindfulness and relaxation are all effective ways to improve your mood during the winter months.

Cristina Vrech

Co-founder and director of Leone Centre, 20+ years of experience in supporting people, and offering valuable knowledge through Couples Counselling and Individual Counselling. Before becoming a therapist, I worked in the financial sector.

View more posts by Cristina Vrech

Talk with a Leone Centre Professional

If you do feel like you need some help and support, our Leone Centre professionals are available 7 days a week. Call us on 020 3930 1007. We can also provide fast track therapy.

We can offer in-person counselling in London appointments at our head office in Fulham and our offices in Kensington, Wimbledon and Belgravia, We also service Victoria, Putney, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, and City of London.

In addition, we offer Online Therapy appointments wherever in the world you are located, should this better fit around your existing commitments or if you are not able to attend an in-person appointment.

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