The Bravewell Collaborative describes integrative medicine as “a movement whose time has come.” We agree wholeheartedly. At Omaha Integrative Care (OIC), we offer integrative therapies to support your health and wellness. The time has come, yet where do you start?
Q: As soon as the days get shorter I notice a change in my mood and energy. I feel more tired and heavy. I’m pretty sure I have some form of seasonal affective disorder. What can help with this?
A: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often known as the winter blues, effects approximately 6% of people in the United States (1). Those affected may feel irritable, sad, or struggle with fatigue. Many report feeling “heavy” and have difficulty concentrating (2). Symptoms tend to start in the fall as the days grow shorter. Therapy, massage and yoga are just a few integrative approaches that may help in addition to meditation, acupuncture and nutritional counseling.
Massage is one of the holistic options for decreasing SAD. OIC’s massage therapist Sara Comstock says “massage therapy is thought of as a nice way to relax, but there are so many more therapeutic benefits as well that can help alleviate S.A.D.”
- Massage has been shown to decrease cortisol levels, in turn lowering stress levels. Massage helps to restore the parasympathetic nervous system which helps you to fully rest as well as effectively aiding digestion (overindulge on holiday snacks?).
- Massage increases your endorphins, a natural antidepressant, as well as lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, stimulates nerves, and aids in removing toxins via the lymph system.
- Often times massage therapists will include some sort of aromatherapy to their practice. Diffusing essential oils or adding them to the massage oil has many benefits that aid in the total well-being. Many citrus oils are uplifting and fresh, while others oils such as lavender or patchouli are more grounding and calming.
Licensed Mental Health Therapist Rachel Wolfe has the following suggestions for mitigating some of the symptoms of SAD:
- Increase your exposure to sunlight by going for a walk or sitting next to windows when possible.
- Therapy is also very helpful in managing symptoms, like irritability and low energy and motivation.
- Some people find that taking an antidepressant medication during the fall and winter months is also helpful. If this route feels right to you talk with your physician.
One of the best ways to mitigate that heavy feeling of SAD is to get moving. Yoga has been found to help alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD and possibly even increase serotonin levels according to Dr. Timothy McCall. OIC’s yoga teacher Teri Beste suggests practicing a flow sequence such as sun salutations to move energy and breath. See Yoga International’s Chair Yoga: Sun Salutations for a gentle practice to do early in the morning and/or before you go to bed. Yoga also includes meditation and breathing practices which can help lift move and improve focus.
Acupuncture, nutritional counseling and meditation are other ways to work with SAD.Whichever approach speaks to you, we are here to help. For more guidance or to schedule an appointment email us or call 402-934-1617.
Our integrative practitioners want to answer your questions through the lens of integrative care. Want to know how to boost your mood? How about some thoughts on chronic pain or insomnia? Ask us!
Submit your questions and they may be included in our monthly Holistic Q&A Blog. Our practitioners will give you some thoughts from a holistic perspective. We will give you suggestions from a yogic view; tell you what our massage therapist thinks as well as what our nutritionist, acupuncturist and counseling professionals have to say on the subject.
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