D o you find yourself dreading the coming months, because you know it brings shorter daylight hours? Yes, those fall leaves are beautiful to look at. Yet winter is just around the corner. To some people, it can bring with it a sense of dread. Does it make you depressed and somewhat anxious? Do you fight to keep moving in the wintertime? It would be more fun to curl up on the couch and read a good book than deal with old man winter outside. D epending on how you deal with winter, mentally and physically, could determine if you are affected by SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I came across a very thorough article by Karen Randolph at selfgrowth.com. While she goes in scientific detail of this disorder, I will highlight the basics and let you go to the website if you would like to delve in deeper. T he following are some symptoms Karen lists for SAD mood disorders as:
• Increased stress
• Increased feelings of hopelessness
• Increased cravings for sweets
• Increased weight gain
• Increased tendency to oversleep
• Decreased energy and motivation
• Decreased concentration and creativity
• Decreased interest in social activities
I t sounds like in the body’s reaction to the reduction of sunlight, the brain starts producing more melatonin. If too much is produced, it can cause depression-like symptoms. The article goes on to state that “9 percent of the Northern United States suffer from SAD and it’s more prevalent in women than men.” T he good news is that massage has been found to be a good counter to the overproduction of melatonin as it helps raise serotonin levels. Serotonin is what helps with mood, appetite, behavior, body temperature and sleep. As massage helps your muscles to release the tension and allows you to forget your worries for that 60 or 90 minutes, it also helps with serotonin production. Getting a massage once a month is good, while every two weeks is even better. And if you add in some aromatherapy oils, Karen’s article listed the following as the best for treating SAD: basil, orange, sandalwood, lemon, jasmine, sage, chamomile and peppermint. T here are also a couple of other nondrug-related ways to help deal with SAD. One way to get vitamin D is to go outside when the sun is shining (yes, I know, this is difficult to do here when we have more cloudy days than sunny ones). And, if that’s not possible, another option is to counter the cloudy days by taking vitamin D in supplement form. Using light therapy is another way—sitting in front of specific lights (lamps) that emit the right rays to help change your mood. I have also heard of these lamps referred to as “happy lamps.”
So, now you have some tools to help you combat SAD. It’s time to get your massages and get happy again.
Susan Santi is a certified massage therapist and owner of Ahhh Massage in Virginia, MN. Feel free to contact her with questions at 218-410-2144.