February is considered the most depressing month of the year. The festivities of the holidays are over and there is no break in the weather for what seems like forever! This combination of decreased sunlight and bitter weather conditions helps manifest depressive feelings in many people. Our activity level decreases due to our limited ability to engage in outdoor leisure pursuits and we often put on more weight as well. No wonder we feel most depressed during this month!
Lack of sunshine and Vitamin K that comes with sun exposure can play havoc with our brain chemicals and in turn cause us unnecessary suffering. There are ways to combat the depressive feelings that we encounter. Let me first address Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a diagnosis and is something that you should consult your doctor about. Light Therapy is a proven treatment in SAD, especially during the winter months. Clinical Depression is also a diagnosis that you should seek medical advice about. I am going to speak about generalized depressive feelings and although the following strategies help with both clinical diagnosis of SAD and Clinical Depression, you should always consult your doctor for medical advice.
Feelings of depression hit every human being at some time in their lives and they are always helped with the right mindset. The three things that you will be benefitted by are: a nutricious and well balanced diet, daily exercise (20-30 mins), and making sure you get the right amount of sleep. Studies prove that in order to rejuvenate the brain and gain back mental acuity, you should be getting 9 hours of sleep each day. This is generally challenging to most people who are over 50 because of a pattern of living as well as sleeping. I would suggest 7-8 hours of sleep is good. Some people work well with less and some with more, but remember that anything outside of your usual pattern of sleep (when all is well) for more than a week should be a sign that something is going on inside your brain or body and should be checked out medically, to make sure there are no physical issues that need to be addressed. Given that you’ve checked out healthy medically, you should check out what’s going on in your head and in your life because one will affect the other. You may be prescribed a sleep aid to temporarily help with sleep but this should be a temporary measure. I urge you to seek professional help if insomnia or feelings of depression persist.
When depressive thoughts crop up, make sure that you check out your mental and emotional energy. Are your thoughts, emotions and actions leaning towards the negative? If so, it is essential to change these. It is helpful to think positive thoughts and speak in positive terms. You may want to envision positive outcomes in every area of your life. Listen to music that makes you feel good, picture positive environments (a great trip or activity), or people who are positive and uplifting, you get the picture. Remember that all situations are temporary and they do have an end, this includes your feelings of depression, so keep your face to the sunshine!