The Winter Solstice marks the official start of winter, which takes place this year on Dec. 21. This is the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. During the winter when the sun starts setting earlier in the day, a lot of people can begin to feel a state of depression creeping up on them. While many might just attribute these feelings to a case of the winter blues, it’s actually a real condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder
Though specific causes of SAD are unknown, it’s believed that changes in the body’s serotonin and melatonin levels play a major role. Due to the reduction in sunlight in the winter, the body’s internal clock can be thrown off, which disturbs natural sleep rhythms and can lead to feelings of depression. For some adults, this can begin late in the fall, but usually subsides by the time summer rolls around.
What Are the Symptoms of SAD?
Some people experience mild or intense symptoms—even if there’s nothing in their lives that would naturally trigger feelings of sadness. Many people report feeling:
- sad without cause
- physically heavy
People also say they experience:
- changes in appetite
- weight gain or weight loss
- social withdrawal
- social anxiety
RELATED: TOP MARIJUANA STRAINS FOR DEPRESSION
What You Can Do to Combat SAD
Sip a warm, marijuana-infused drink.
Warm up and medicate at the same time with this simple recipe for a soothing, cannabis-infused hot apple cider that you can make at home using a cannabidiol (CBD) tincture. CBD can help ease anxiety, tension and improve your mood.
Find the humor.
Fitting a little humor into your day will pay off by helping reduce stress, uplift your mood and give you a distraction from feeling glum. There are so many benefits that come with laughing, from releasing endorphins that can make you feel good, not to mention stop pain, boost your immune system and lower your blood pressure.
Opt for energizing cannabis sativa strains.
Sativas are known for being uplifting, mood boosters that can combat stress, anxiety and depression. Popular strains like Blue Dream and Lemon Haze can be used in the morning to help motivate you as well as act as a pick-me-up at the end of a long day.
Get your body moving.
Whether you’re into extreme workouts like CrossFit or more relaxing movement like yoga, exercise can help boost your mood and reduce anxiety. You can actually change your biochemical state and increase the endorphins in your body with regular, physical activity.
It’s also been shown that cannabis can have beneficial effects when incorporated with an exercise regimen, but it’s not for everyone. Exercise alone can often be enough to lift your spirits.
According to a 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation can help relieve anxiety, pain and depression. In fact, meditation—the technique of clearing your mind and focusing on your breathing to bring about a state of deep relaxation—was found to be almost as effective as an antidepressant.
If you’re so inclined, you can also medicate while meditating with strains like Lamb’s Bread or Laughing Buddha, both of which can enhance your practice as well as your mood. Check out our more comprehensive list of other cannabis strains that would work well with meditation.
Photo credit: Polina Kirilenko