All the signs were there……
I found myself sleeping in, rolling over and pressing snooze, and sulking….sulking! What the heck is wrong with me? I usually run at 100 miles an hour, racing through the long list of daily ‘to do’s’ both at work and at home. But something was different, something felt off, something was wrong.
We moved to Seattle from Australia 5 years ago. I adore the enormous trees, prodigous mountains, the outdoor lifestyle, and everything about the summers. Sure, the last 2 years have been…. how would you call a global pandemic with 3 kids online schooling and running a business.. challenging? A living hell? Sure! 2020 brought stress, malaise, boredom, 20 extra pounds with a sprinkling of cabin fever and marital disquiet. But this felt different, and not in a good way. Am I depressed?
Then it hit me. I have SAD. I may BE sad, but what I am experiencing is seasonal affective disorder, and that reality is no joke. People who grew up in northern climates are rather familiar with SAD and prepare accordingly. Plan for trips to sunnier locations, take Vitamin D3, perhaps use a Light Therapy Lamp. However, research suggests, that SAD is more than just nutrient deficiency and biological predisposition, it’s also about mindset and perspective.
So here’s what I did about it. On one of Seattle’s blissful ‘sunbreaks’, I took Sydney (our mini Aussie Shepard and my best buddy) for our usual urban hike, and I downloaded a podcast titled “The way out is in” A series aimed at helping humans transcend fear and anger so that we can be more engaged in the world in a way that develops love and compassion through Zen teachings. The episode “Slow Down, Rest, and Heal: The Spirit of the Rains Retreat” spoke to me and echoed that both the body and mind need a period of time in the year for stillness. Its cohost Jo Confino is an executive coach, journalist, sustainability expert, and Zen mindfulness practitioner whose career has spanned The Huffington Post and The Guardian. He’s the reason I downloaded the podcast.
What I learned was invaluable. I was granted permission to pause, to reflect nature rather than fight it. This, made perfect sense to me. Rather than scramble and fight to keep the vibe of summer alive, or. lament wanting to curl up under a big blanket by the fire, nature grants permission to relish the slower pace of Fall and Winter, to breath, and to heal. This shift in perception allowed me to absorb the incredible changing seasonal colors and appreciate the cold air on my bare skin. I felt gratitude and a sense of connectedness to the seasons and to nature itself. And, felt that it was not only OK, but right that I wanted to go inward and be still.
For me, it was as if a light had been switched on. A change in perception was what allowed me to view and embrace the coming change of season. In my practice, I remind people how to listen to their bodies. What a wonderful AHA moment when I realized my body was behaving in perfect alignment with nature’s cyclic patterns.
Finding the balance between nurturing the bodies’ response to seasonal change, and, being present and capable of handling life’s daily tasks and challenges – is the tricky part. Clinical research speaks to the importance of seeing a certified counselor or therapist for advanced and persistent SAD, especially if it corresponds with ongoing symptoms of depression. Upping the anty on my health protocol supports my body to be more aligned with daily responsibilities during the darker months. Below is what I take personally and prescribe daily for seasonal affective disorder. For people who work indoors during the darker months implementing a Light Therapy Lamp can be very beneficial.
Vitamin D3 10’000ius
magnesium chelate 325mg
Lion’s mane (double hot extraction fruiting body) capsules 1500mg
Botanical nervine tonics and adaptogens – Gotu kola, St John’s wort, Holy Basil. Skullcap etc
Amanda Lovett-Jones is an Australian Naturopath, Registered Western Herbalist (AHG), and culinary medicine specialist. She is the CEO of Functional Health & Apothecary where she practices complementary medicine. She is an avid writer, formulator, and antiinflammatory evangelist. She lives with her husband, 3 kids, and Aussie Shepard in Seattle.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.