The days are so much shorter as fall turns to winter. Many people need to conquer the winter blues and fast. It’s colder, darker and harder to get off the couch. I told my youngest daughter the other day that I couldn’t work out because it was too dark out. That is not good for the body, brain, or soul. I am not suffering from the “Winter Blues” per se, but I am feeling it for sure.
As the season changes, everyone’s brains make a little less serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, as there is less daily sunlight and the weather draws colder. For some people, this effect is magnified tenfold. You can visit the risk factors listed below, but for some “The Winter Blues” become Seasonal Affective Disorder, a major depressive disorder that can be difficult to overcome during the winter months. This can result in apathy, lethargy, and difficulty rocking out your best life. As your circadian rhythms are impacted, the processing speed in your brain slows down and brings on feelings of unhappiness, tiredness, and boredom.
So, here are some tips for you to beat the Winter Blues and its evil cousin the more involved Seasonal Affective Disorder. This way you can rock out your best life all winter long.
3 Tips to Conquer the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Get Dancing to Conquer the Winter Blues
Exercise and movement are shown to increase serotonin production in the brain. Low levels of the positive brain juices are the culprit in the Winter Blues. Move your body every day for 30 minutes. Even if you have to drag yourself off the couch and just walk around your house, do it. I love to “random dance” in the kitchen. I crank up some tunes and dance around as I cook and clean. It gets my blood pumping and makes me feel better.
If you can get outside, that is even better for you as you will naturally be getting Vitamin D from the sun as an added benefit. If you can’t I get it. I used to live in Buffalo, NY where it would be too cold to go out with temperatures below zero. Yikes. One of the risk factors for SAD is living where it colder, so it is absolutely related. So, if nothing else, turn lots of lights on and crank up your favorite music to stimulate the system and get dancing.
Is the glass half empty or half full? Always choose half full and tell yourself why. Every negative outlook can be changed to a positive one with practice. Start today. When you begin to tell yourself something with a “Debbie Downer” attitude, pump the brakes. Re-frame the idea into a more positive light. When I feel overwhelmed by the insane amount of food I cook my family 3x a day, 7 days a week, I stop myself from complaining. Instead, I say to myself, I get the opportunity to feed these kids beautiful, organic, home-cooked meals until they leave here in 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, I joke about how much I am going to eat out at 5 start restaurants when that day comes, but until then I have fun making new recipes in big batches.
Neurofeedback Therapy to help the Winter Blues
Neurofeedback therapy has been used to help people train their brains to regulate their own moods. People have alleviated or even eliminated their symptoms from seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other conditions affecting mood and emotions using Neurofeedback. The best part is that with advances in technology you can do Neurofeedback Therapy in the comfort of your own home. My husband, Dr. Cosmas Leigh, and his awesome team at Leigh Brain & Spine help people overcome SAD all winter long. If you struggle with SAD or the Winter Blues and cannot use any of the suggestions above, you probably are using a brain pattern that is really stuck in a depressed mode. A qEEG Brain Map can show you, with your own eyes, what is going on and how you can improve your life.
Neurofeedback relies on your brain’s neuroplasticity in order to help work more efficiently, eliminating the brain imbalances that can cause depression. First, a brain map is performed to identify which types of irregular brain patterns are being used in the brain. Then customized training protocols are implemented to assist you in learning to use the optimal brain pattern for calm focus instead of one that causes depression. Best of all, the treatment is non-invasive – most patients spend 30 minutes for a set number of weeks watching a video and learning to respond to its visual cues. The results are long-lasting and can be used safely in combination with any other treatments.
Is it the Winter Blues or Burn Out?
I am reading an awesome book right now by Emily Nagoski and her sister Amelia. With the build-up of stress over time, your nervous system can take a beating. It makes it hard to get out of bed, feel purposeful and can look alot like the Winter Blues if it occurs during the most stressful time of the year… the holidays. For more information on Burn Out, visit my blog post on the subject with tips to conquer Burn Out too. Neurofeedback and Neurocoaching are the best solutions to get out from under Burn Out too. To learn more about what causes anxiety and depression and what to do about, join my neurocoaching workshop on Brain Hacks to Overcome Anxiety and Depression.
FOR NEUROFEEDBACK EXPERTS
If you work with people who want to conquer the winter blues or those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, recognize that their qEEG Brain Map will likely appear different during the winter months than in early Fall or Summer. Thus, be sure to map the individual while they are feeling the symptoms of their SAD. When struggling most with the symptoms, the person’s brain map will reflect the underlying brain pattern best.
Neuroscience studies show that people with Seasonal Affective Disorder demonstrate lower power across most brain speed frequencies. As such, increasing power in affected areas can serve to offset the impacted pattern and alleviate symptoms resulting from it. Additionally, inter-hemispheric lateral asymmetry has also been shown to be a contributing factor, especially in the frontal areas. When regulated, symptoms showed improvement in a study by Passankova and Volf (2001). If you want to know more about how to best interpret qEEG Brain Maps and Neurofeedback Trend Screens, visit my Workshop on the topic to hone your professional skills.
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