Better circulation could help you avoid distress in the months ahead.
As the winter days get shorter, most people find themselves more sad, tired and irritable. It’s easier to binge on junk food and harder to concentrate on important things.
The dark days can make some of us even feel helpless, hopeless, worthless or suicidal.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is recognized as a major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns.
A less severe form of seasonal mood disorder, known as the winter blues, impacts an even larger portion of the population.
Combined, the two disorders affect as many as one in five Americans.
The common way to manage either challenge is to increase your exposure to light.
The Mayo Clinic explains that “light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms.”
Researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University wanted to know if light therapy really works.
Test subjects sat for an hour with a bright, full-spectrum light about a foot from their face.
After 6 weeks, the majority no longer suffered depression symptoms.
Early afternoon seemed to be the best time for therapy. During testing, researchers found that early morning light exposure could switch people with bipolar disorder into a manic phase.
This study is “intriguing, but highly preliminary,” says Al Lewy, psychiatrist, professor emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University and SAD light therapy pioneer.
Many doctors say it’s important that people with bipolar disorder not try light therapy on their own.
While generally safe, light therapy has also caused some to experience eyestrain, headache, nausea or irritability.
Other light therapy risks: those with certain eye conditions or skin sensitivities (such as from lupus, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications) should avoid light therapy.
Be careful to avoid excessive ultraviolet light too. Tanning beds are not an option.
Clearly, natural light is best. An hour’s walk in the winter sun. Greater indoor exposure to sunlight too.
Dr. Joseph Cilona, author and licensed clinical psychologist also adds:
“Unfortunately, most people using light therapy experience a return of symptoms within days of stopping treatment.”
Adding regular exercise to your day may help.
The Mayo Clinic explains that exercise releases feel-good hormones, takes your mind off your worries, brings confidence when you reach goals and it’s a healthy coping strategy.
Oh, and one more important thing:
Exercise increases your circulation.
And circulation has a huge connection with depression.
Omer Bonne, head of inpatient psychiatry and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, states something that many doctors have seen:
Notice it’s not some people, a few people or even most people. The link between depression and lack of circulation in the brain is this strong.
Doctors also see that the opposite is true:
When you improve your circulation, you decrease the depression and feel better again.
Simple as that.
However, when you have depression or anxiety, exercise may seem like the very last thing you want to do.
Is there anything else you can do, that’s healthy, to feel really good again?
Dr. Nina Cherie Franklin knew she had to answer this question.
As an athlete, Franklin knew how exercise made her feel.
As a health coach, she knew how difficult it is for some people to embrace exercise.
Yet Franklin’s career as a research scientist focused on exercise physiology. And that’s how she learned about massage therapy.
Sure, people say massage is good for you and it makes you feel better.
Why do people suffering from winter depression report such excellent results from massage therapy?
Could someone massage your legs or arms and improve the circulation in your whole body…including your brain?
Could this be proven?
Working with the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Franklin set out to find these answers.
Using an ultrasound technique called flow mediated dilation (FMD), Franklin measured changes in circulation throughout the body.
She tested people who exercised and those who didn’t exercise. She tested people who received a massage session and those who didn’t.
What did the research prove?
Massaging one area of your body can actually improve blood circulation throughout your body.
Of course, this is just one study. And I’m sure scientists have many more questions about massage, blood flow and countless other health conditions.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something about massage therapy here.
And now you have a new reason for hope.
You won’t have to dread the long, dark winter months like you did before.
Why not try all three ideas in this article?
Everybody is different, and any one of these three ideas could be the answer you need.
Of course, with anything health-related, ask your doctor.
Some say that full-spectrum bulbs with 2500+ lux at your local hardware store can help you after only a few days.
It’s obvious that being consistent helps, but doctors agree: even a little exercise will help you more than doing none.
And by all means, why not talk to an experienced massage therapist? One who’s successfully helped others fight depression, sadness and overwhelm?
Many who need help the most find it hard to believe they deserve to get this kind of help.
You do deserve it.
And you can feel good again.
Please know that life-changing help is waiting for you, and for anyone else willing to simply reach out for it.
Life takes it out of you. I’d love to help you put it back in.
How can I help you personally?
Call me at 303-920-2350 with any questions, concerns or to find out how massage and essential oils can make life better for you.
by Sarah Shropshire
LMT, Essential Oil and Business Consultant