Seasonal Depression & Plants
(*note: I am not a medical professional. Everything I mention is gathered from my own experience and is not to be taken as serious medical advice. None I mention is a substitute for professional help. If you or someone you know is experiencing mild to severe depression, call The Mental Health Hotline at 866-903-3787 or dial 988 for emergencies)
S.A.D or seasonal anxiety/ affective disorder is the condition that affects millions of Americans a year. Symptoms can include anxiety, weight gain, fatigue and sadness just to name a few. This may be due to the decrease in sunlight that occurs during Autumn and Winter.
I myself have struggled with SAD for years and for the first time in a long time I have not been deeply affected. What once was an unwelcomed change in weather is now a fully embraced Autumn Equinox & Winter Solstice.
What helped me most?
1. Identifiers - Having a name for my mood change and depression type allowed me to mentally prepare for the colder darker seasons. Seasonal Depression | Meaning, Signs And Causes | Risks | Treatment (mantracare.org)
2. Upped my Herbs and Vitamins - There are a series of natural supplements and herbs that have been shown to improve mood. Vitamin D, Glutamine, Magnesium, Maca Root, Ashwagandha, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Vitamin B complex and Valerian Root are all included in my weekly regiment. Sure, some of these things are naturally occurring in some foods, but getting an isolated stronger source can be more impactful*
3. Embraced Different Activities - I planned how I spend my days a little differently. Colder and wetter days meant more time indoors. That can be a dumper on anyone that is mostly active and conducts business outdoors. Staying creative & returning to old hobbies like reading or drawing required me to sit still. There is a peace to be found in stillness. I challenged myself to consistency contribute to the completion of small projects. You can watch my latest one here:
4. Listened to My Garden - Studies have shown how gardening affects mood. Gardening can influence and benefit your mental health (tamu.edu) Fortunately, in Zone 10b we can grow year-round. Take queues from the garden. Dormancy, overwintering and striation are two practices that help during the cooler seasons. Letting plants die, not raking leaves, cutting back perennials encouraging larger blooms and sprouts come Springtime. That translates to rest for me. Doing less, resting more helped relieve so many of the S.A.D. symptoms I struggled with.
6. Take in the Sunlight - In short, we experience some form of photosynthesis. We need natural sunlight and water to thrive. Make sure to get at least 15 minutes of sun with your arms and legs exposed, drink a minimum of two liters of spring water and take that nap. Being well rested and well fed for at least one season out of the year is something my garden taught me. Some that we deeply deserve. What Are the Benefits of Sunlight? (healthline.com)