The shorter days and colder weather of winter is here — and so is the increase in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Are you feeling unmotivated and depressed for no apparent reason? Are you irritable? Do you suffer from lack of sleep or lapses in concentration? Chances are you might be prone to SAD.
Here are 8 TCM tips to help you fight off symptoms or at least ease the intensity of SAD:
1. Be easy on yourself
TCM believes that winter is the time to be quiet and preserve energy, so it is normal that people are “relatively low” (more Yin energy). So please allow adjustments for your daily routine to make sure enough rest, appropriate diet and suitable energy boosting. [Read more: Winter Breakfast for Cold Winter Mornings] [Read more: Qi deficiency: What is it and how do you manage it?]
2. Get sunlight or light stimulation
Light is the Yang energy in TCM theory. Enjoy an afternoon sunbath whenever possible. If natural sun is not available, try using a lightbox 30 minutes to 1 hour each day. For people who need to get up early for work, try to get a dawn simulator [a bedside light, connected to an alarm clock, that mimics a sunrise and wakes you up gradually]. [Read more: Circadian Rhythms and the Chinese Medicine Body Clock]
3. Eat healthily
A healthy diet will stabilize your mood, give you more energy and boost your immunity system during winter. Be aware of sweet craving and alcohol consumption. Eat warm meals regularly. [Read more about healthy diet.] [Read more: Cook your food - digestive system explained in Traditional Chinese medicine]
4. Do moxibustion
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing and energy boosting. It brings the Fire/Yang energy and helps with blood circulation. Free moxa guide is available in our ordination. Or you can do some research on the internet for the location of ST-36, BL-23 and CV-4.
5. Spice it up
Use a little bit more spice for the Fire/Yang energy. For example, 3 slices of fresh ginger in hot water or black tea for a drink. Black pepper, rosemary and oregano for cooking. Instead of the cooked wine, clove, ginger and cinnamon in warm apple juice is also a great warming drinks if you stay outdoor for a long time. But be aware, over using spice could burn up the good energy.
6. Nourish yourself
Winter time is the best for filling your Kidney Water/Yin energy. Black sesame, walnut and goji are the easily available. Drink warm water slowly and moderately when you feel thirsty. Over drinking of water could weaken your Kidney energy. [Read more: How much water should I drink? Understanding Water energy with TCM]
7. Choose energy boosting wisely
Yes, coffee is cheap and easily available, but without suitable support to your real energy, coffee is like a bad banker to put you on energy debt in the long run. Get a TCM consultation and your customized energy boosting mixture. [Read more: 7 steps to Cut Down on Coffee Consumption]
8. Exercise gently and appropriately
Walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improves symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression. However, if you already suffer from chronic fatigue, burnout or strong depression, it is advisable for you to get more rest and limit the intensity of exercise. [Read more: The benefits of Tai Chi]