Does winter tend to get you down? For many it is more than a little cabin fever. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real problem. Luckily, there is a treatment that is all natural and makes a lot of scents–literally.
Have you ever thought seasonal depression and light therapy was a made up ailment? Not so much. SAD is a form of clinical depression that affects many people each year, mostly those living in the Midwest where winters tend to run long. Symptoms include anxiety, depression, lethargy, mood changes, food cravings, and sleep disruption.
Reduced light exposure is thought to be the main cause of SAD. Natural light affects everything from how we feel to our appetite and sleep habits. Those longer, darker days of winter can lead to chemical imbalance in the brain, resulting in SAD.
Light therapy is the traditional treatment for SAD and antidepressants are often prescribed. Other remedies are taking advantage of sunlight when you can, getting outside, and making sure to exercise regularly.
Before you go pitching a “for sale” sign in your front yard and heading permanently to warmer climates, get this: Research has found that scents may play a role in seasonal depression. Studies show that those who suffer from SAD have a more acute sense of smell than those who are not as negatively affected. Furthermore, natural plant oils may stimulate parts of the brain that control hormonal, immune, and emotional functions.
If what we smell affects our moods and other functions, aromatherapy must be the answer, right? Many people who deal with an annual bout of SAD have seen benefits from using essential oil aromatherapy. Certain oils are uplifting and energizing, while others are calming and help to induce a peaceful night’s sleep.
Ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy are through steam inhalation, massage, mists, and bath. When using essential oils it is important to remember that these oils are very potent and should not be applied directly to skin. If using on the skin combine a few drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil (like sweet almond or jojoba) prior to application.
Wondering which essential oils are best for you? Citrus and mint oils are best for reviving and energizing a lagging spirit. Try sweet orange, grapefruit, bergamot, rosemary, or peppermint. Need help getting to sleep? Lavender and chamomile should do the trick.
If you aren’t so much the DIY type, there are essential oil blends that you can purchase to use right away. Here are some of the best:
Aromatherapy for Energy and Refreshment:
“Bergamot is an excellent choice to use because it is great for helping to alleviate symptoms of depression. On its own, it is an uplifting citrus scent that can cut through the heavy, sometimes suffocating scents at this time of year (like cinnamon, clove, pine, and all those baked goods). Coriander is a fantastic complement to Bergamot and helps to instill some confidence and motivation, which is extremely important when seasonal affective disorder is making you feel down in the dumps.” ~ Clara of Skinnyskinny
Aromatherapy for Relaxation and Sleep:
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