Long nights, short days, sweaters, warm clothes and chilly weather make many of us sick and depressed. This depression which surfaces especially in winter is a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and is often called as winter Time Blues or Winter depression. The exact cause for this depression is as of yet unclear. But yet few scientists believe lack of exposure to sunlight as the reason for this disorder.
The symptoms of winter depression are tendency to over eat, craving for carbohydrates and sweets and weight gain.
Had our ancestors observed this change in humans? The answer is yes. Have they recommended any remedies? Yes, they have recommended simple and effective natural remedies to overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder. They have laid down explicit guidelines about diet and lifestyles which have to be followed according to seasons.
The winter season is marked as Hemanta ritu and Sisira ritu in ayurveda. Hemanta ritu starts from mid November and ends in mid January. This falls in southern solstice which is called as visarga kala or dakshinayana in ayurveda. Sisira ritu starts from mid January and lasts till middle of march. Sisira ritu falls in Northern solstice which is called as Aadana kaala or uttaraayana.
The response of human body to this season is very well explained in ayurveda. People will have increased strength and their digestion capacity is increased .This is marked by increased hunger. These symptoms are caused by increased body fire which is supported by vata. Vata inside body increases in winter because of cold and dryness which is prevalent in outer atmosphere.
The winter time depression is noticed mostly in persons who have vata as major constituent in their prakriti or body constitution. The cause for this type of change is longer nights of winter.
Light therapy is recommended by doctors for winter time blues. Exposure to artificial light may cause headache , Irritability ,Eye strain , Inability to sleep and fatigue. Exposure to sunlight and if sunlight is not available sitting near fireplace is the remedy suggested in Ayurveda.
Keeping the home well lit with lights help to reduce the intensity of depression.
Moderate exercise like yoga is another remedy for winter depression. Ayurveda recommends oil massage (abhyanga) to body and head (moordha taila.). Indulging in sexual act to keep the moods elevated and to keep the body warm is another strongly suggested ayurvedic remedy.
Meeting friends who are kind and understanding boosts morale and brightens up the day. Spending time with friends on the beach helps to expose your body to sunlight and keeps your spirits high.
Relaxing with meditation, massage , light music and laughter helps to great extent.
The following ayurvedic tips help to prevent and reduce the intensity of seasonal disorder of winter, the winter time blues.
1. Expose yourself to sunlight as much as you can. In absence of sun light sitting near fire place is very helpful.
2. Massage your body with vata balancing herbal oil
(abhyanga). Never forget to apply oil on your head (moordha taila.).
3. Then remove the oil by taking hot water bath. A mixture of flours of yellow gram (channa), green gram (moong) , fenu greek seeds (methi) in equal proportion is the best herbal scrub which can be used to remove the oil. This mixture prevents the washing of natural oil from skin.
4. Consume hot soups.
5. Use vata balancing foods like wheat, oil, corn, black gram and jaggery.
6. Tickle your taste buds with sweet, sour and salt tastes
7. Always use hot water for all daily routine activity.
8. Use thick blankets and sheets made of cotton, silk and wool.
9. Always wear foot wear.
10. Indulge in sexual act.
11. Spend your leisure time with friends and relatives whom you like.