Since we’re smack in the middle of winter and spring won’t arrive for another 7 or 8 weeks, we thought we’d offer up some information on SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and the importance of doing everything possible to enjoy good mental health, even during winter months. Many people who suffer from depression (and even some who don’t) become more depressed this time of year due to the cold, cloudy weather and lack of daylight as it gets dark earlier. What can you do to feel better? As a trusted contract food services company in Atlanta, we have a few suggestions.
First of all, what causes SAD? While the exact cause hasn’t been pinpointed, it is believed that reduced sunlight in winter months can result in a drop in serotonin levels. Serotonin is a brain chemical that impacts mood, as is melatonin, another chemical that may be disrupted by the change in season.
If your SAD symptoms are fairly mild, there are some things you can do yourself to feel better and brighten your mood:
Get outdoors every chance you get on sunny days. Even if it’s cold outside, take a walk on your lunch hour or eat lunch outdoors.
At home or at work, let the light shine in through windows. Even when it isn’t sunny, simply having some light come in helps. Pull back the curtains, open up the blinds, and sit close to the windows, sunshine or not!
Get physical. Exercising regularly aids with nearly anything that ails you, because it increases endorphins, or “feel good” hormones, in the body. Exercise lifts your mood, helps relieve stress and anxiety, and gives you an overall feeling of well-being.
Eat the right foods. Eating foods packed with vitamin D and omega-3 fats can make a difference – some foods even work as well as antidepressant medications! Foods that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, mackerel, canola and walnut oils, flaxseed, and hemp. Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” can help when consumed over longer periods of time. Good sources of this vitamin include tuna, salmon, rainbow trout, egg yolks, and fortified milk.
When it comes to carbohydrates, eating healthy carbs is key to feeling better. Avoid the cookies, white rice, white bread, and donuts, choosing instead pretzels, popcorn, or low-fat biscotti for snacking. At dinnertime, the time of day when SAD symptoms are often strongest, add healthy carbs to your evening meal such as potatoes, lentils, and brown rice.
These tips will hopefully help those who suffer mildly from SAD; however, if your symptoms are severe it is important to seek help from your doctor.
At Gourmet Services, Inc. we understand the correlation between healthy eating and good physical and mental health. As a reputable contract food services company in business for more than 40 years, we bring more to the table than food! Contact us today for your food service management needs.