If you’re feeling SAD, this will help.
Seasonal transitions can be rough. Here in NYC last week, the weather outside got gloomy and stormy, coinciding with the first week of September which always signifies that back-to-school/back-to-work reality check.
The weather inside – meaning my own body and mind – was also gloomy and stormy. I struggled with extra rough PMS from a delayed period and I was feeling the depressing effects of whacky hormones combined with lack of sunlight and the atmospheric pressure outside.
The result: much difficulty waking up in the mornings, feeling motivationally challenged to do anything but the basics, having carby cravings and scattered thoughts. Bleh. (Yes, even health coaches get down in the dumps sometimes!)
The reason I’m sharing this with you is because I have a feeling I’m not alone in these kinds of symptoms. If you have been feeling out of sorts, if your cycle is irregular, if you have now or have had in the past depressive symptoms like low mood and energy, difficulty sleeping, and trouble focusing, then chances are the current seasonal shift is affecting you. You may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder and PMS at the same time can be completely overwhelming.
I’m on the other end of it now and wanted to share my tactics for working through this low-level pre-menstrual depression, as well as preventing it from happening in the future. Given the time of year we’re in, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can begin affecting us, making PMS symptoms even worse, so it’s important to prepare and prevent.
Read on for the research I’ve gathered, plus practical tools you can start implementing now!
Why Pre-menstrual Depression & Seasonal Affective Disorder Happen
Both pre-menstrual depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder occur because of low levels of the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is produced in our bodies from the precursor amino acid tryptophan, and melatonin is converted from serotonin by the pineal gland at night. Thus, low serotonin yields low melatonin, which messes with our sleep cycles and further contributes to depressed feelings.
Take away regular doses of natural sunlight with the darkening weather, and it gets even worse – Sunlight increases serotonin production, as well as Vitamin D production, which helps maintain the serotonin levels. I should also mention that the stress hormone cortisol can impact serotonin production, so if you throw stress into the mix, it will exacerbate the problem.
Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder and PMS
Here are the most essential food and lifestyle recommendations to help combat the above-mentioned problems.
– Eat good things. Particularly things that contain the amino acid tryptophan. These include: turkey, chicken, seafood, eggs, buckwheat, nuts, seeds, legumes. Vitamin B6 is also important for melatonin production and progesterone production (essential for combating PMS!) so pick up a B6 supplement and increase the foods listed above. I’m also including a smoothie recipe below that is rich in serotonin-boosting nutrients!
– Light up your life. Get out of bed and go for a walk first thing in the morning! Waking your body up with natural light is one of the best things you can do for moods and monthly cycle. If it’s hard to come by where you live, get a natural light bulb, or one of these cool gadgets:
o Sunlight–simulating alarm clock by Gaiam
o Lightmask by Rio (especially beneficial if you also suffer from migraines)
– “Rhythm. Rhythm is a Dancer….” Not just the chorus to one of my fave 90s songs, this phrase indicates adding essential rhthym to your life in a few forms!! Yes, get groovy with your dance moves or find the kind of exercise that is pleasurable for you. Also, get into a rhythm with your schedule overall. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time, as well as eating meals and exercising at similar times every day greatly improve your body’s inner circadian rhythms, which will help regulate your sleep cycle and menstrual cycle.
– Get busy under the covers, too. The decreasing sunlight and colder weather we experience in the fall and winter are great excuses to increase heatness in bed. Yes, I mean sex, with a partner or solo. The benefits of orgasm are amazing! Just do it!
– Make your social network a reality. Get off facebook and get into real personal contact with humans! Chance are, you’re not alone in feeling down. Picking up the phone to chat with a friend can be the greatest remedy of all. Stay connected.
– Imitate children. When was the last time you picked up paints or made a collage out of old magazine pictures? Add art and creative energy to your life by engaging in activities that make you feel like a kid again. Just for fun.
Before I leave you with a SAD-busting smoothie recipe, I want to invite you to set up a call with me this month. I’m opening up a few special spots in my calendar for anyone dealing with these kinds of issues and looking to set up a network of support for this fall and beyond. I know it’s not always easy to implement the changes that you know you should, and I happen to be pretty good at getting you to do it 😉
Click here to set up your consult so that we can get started! (When prompted, choose the option for Phone Consultation)
to your light,
“Liquid Sunshine” Smoothie Recipe
This smoothie is packed with foods high in tryptophan and B6 (banana, flax), protein, antioxidants, and supportive nutrients for counteracting PMS, SAD, and depression (did you know that turmeric boosts progesterone production, improves the vascular health of the ovaries, AND is a natural anti-inflammatory?).
Get your blender out and get to it!
- ½ banana
- 1 heaping tbsp ground flax
- 1 scoop egg white protein or pea protein powder
- handful of frozen blueberries
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp chlorella powder
- 1 cup water or almond milk, or a combination of the two
Blend everything together. Drinking it in the sunshine is preferable 🙂