Do you fall victim to the winter blues when the temperature plummets, or it’s dark and dreary outside? You’re not alone. In fact, 10 to 20 million adults in the U.S. battle with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD,) which typically last almost half of the year.
Luckily, one-quarter of the population suffers from this ailment to a lesser degree.
Throughout the winter months, people suffering from SAD—a self-diagnosable form of major depressive disorder—often experience sadness and limited energy, while longing for more hours of daylight.
Unlike other forms of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder only manifests as a direct result of shorter days in the colder months—causing seasonal mood fluctuations.
In an effort to counteract the symptoms of SAD: be proactive, stay positive and do something healthy that creates an influx of endorphins. Fall- and winter-related depression don’t have to steal your happiness. You can beat this!
Practicing some uplifting yoga may be the light you seek at the end of a dark, several-months-long tunnel. Not only does exercise improve mood, but it also has been shown to reduce stress, which often exacerbates feelings of depression brought on by SAD.
Plantie organized a seven-minute yoga routine for you to practice every morning and night. Each pose helps promote contentment, relieve sadness and provides some much needed energy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is infamous for depleting energy and causing daytime grogginess. Practicing low cobra, however, provides yogis with more fuel and motivation. In addition to its stimulating effects, this pose strengthens the back muscles, and isn’t too advanced for beginners.
Come onto your stomach and allow your forehead to make a connection with the yoga mat. On your next inhale, lightly press your palms on the ground next to your side-body. Lift your head and shoulders using the muscles in your back. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat six times, taking a few moments to rest in between.
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Insomnia is a common symptom of SAD, and there are positions like legs-up-the-wall—a restorative pose—that encourage a good night’s rest. You’ll also experience decreased anxiety and stress, because this posture is known for calming the nervous system.
Curl into the fetal position with your buttocks beside the wall, or you can even practice this pose at night at the head of your bed. Roll onto your back and swing your legs up against the wall. Shimmy your hips until you find your sweet spot—as close to the wall as possible. For some added comfort, place a yoga block, folded blanket or cushion beneath your backside. Rest your arms on the ground, gently close your eyelids and remain here for three minutes. Your legs may begin to feel numb if you’re practicing a long hold, so feel free to bend your knees accordingly.
Bridge pose is remarkable for easing depression, situational sadness and distress. It will also help tighten your core, build lower body strength, boost energy levels and counteract the effects of sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time. It’s an all-around incredible pose to practice for SAD, back aches and sore muscles.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, and your legs and feet hip-distance apart. Bring your feet closer to your sit bones. Press the entire surface of your feet onto your mat, and inhale while raising your hips upward. Clasp your hands beneath your back against the floor—pushing your pubic bone up and your hands down to continue lifting the middle of your body for one minute.
When practicing butterfly pose, you’re bound to experience enhanced mindfulness and a noticeable decrease in depression, stress and emotional tension. As for the physical aspects of this position, daily practice promotes good pelvic health and flexibility.
Begin in a seated position with your palms facing upward, resting on your knees. Alternatively, you can press your left hand onto your heart and your right hand on your stomach. This can increase calmness—you’re able to feel your heart beating, in addition to each deep breath you take. Now bring the soles of your feet to touch while maintaining good posture—keeping your spine straight and elongated. Allowing gravity to take effect, let your knees sink toward the ground, and then flap them up and down like the wings of a butterfly for the duration of one minute.
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Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Forward folds are commonly practiced during yoga classes, and a wide-legged forward fold is an excellent variation for several reasons. Not only does this pose alleviate backaches and ease neck and shoulder tension, it also works wonders when it comes to releasing anxiety and unhappiness.
Stand tall in mountain pose and jump your feet roughly three to four feet apart from each other. Bend through your hips before folding your body forward. The wider your stance, the easier this pose is. Beginner yogis are welcome to bend their knees for a more comfortable but still deep stretch. If your flexibility allows you to place your hands flat on the floor, we invite you to do so. However, grasping your ankles is a modification you can choose to utilize. Chill here for one minute, and then stand up on your next inhale.
*In addition to using natural remedies that are at your disposal, it’s important to consult with your doctor if you think you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.