If you seem to suffer winter after winter from unusually low energy levels, moodiness, and anxiety, it isn’t just your imagination playing tricks on you. Winter is a time of shorter, darker days, significantly less sun exposure, and cold temperatures. This triple threat can cause what is commonly referred to as the Winter Blues, and medically diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Whether you find yourself experiencing a minor case of the winter blues or a more serious affliction of seasonal depression, strategic use of essential oils can improve your mental mindset and clear the fog that the winter brings.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Most common between May and September, but especially prevalent during June, and July, SAD causes anxiety, depression, lethargy, mood changes, and sleep problems. This stress can even weaken the immune system and wear down the body. It’s common for people suffering from SAD to withdraw from their daily activities and avoid social gatherings entirely. It can become a tail-spin of negative emotions that doesn’t relent until the spring sunshine arrives.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Limited sunlight exposure during the winter months drives the occurrence of Seasonal Affective Disorder because the natural light we receive through our eyes actually controls our moods, sleep patterns, appetite, and internal temperature. Since many people are inside at work during the only sunny hours of the winter, it’s possible to go without seeing the sun for days on end! Such deprivation can interrupt the brain’s chemistry and balance, which leads into depression.
How Can Essential Oils Help?
Many doctors immediately prescribe medication for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but traditional antidepressant drugs have been found to increase lethargy and sleepiness and place users at risk of dependence. That’s definitely not the end goal for people trying to escape these winter blues! While doctors can of course offer valuable solutions, essential oils offer a totally different route to mental health and wellness through the use of aromatherapy. Essential oils are some of nature’s most powerful healers because their potent scents go directly into the brain and unleash their phytochemicals in the limbic system to signal the brain to calm down, find balance, and rejuvenate itself and the body.
By carefully choosing essential oils that will send the right signals to the brain, you can fight the winter blues and SAD completely naturally. In general, citrus oil work to cheer and uplift the motions, while floral oils fight feelings of anxiety and melancholy. Some help restore balance to sleep patterns as well.
The best part about using aromatherapy for this purpose is that the essential oils can be used in a whole host of ways based on your preferences. You can vaporize oils throughout your house for a steady stream of mood boosting scents, dab diluted oils behind your ears and on your wrists, or even use them in the bath or diluted in a massage oil. Whichever way you choose, you’ll notice those pesky winter blues fading away long before the sun peeks its head out for the spring season.
The Best EO Choices
- Sweet Orange is known for its calming properties to relieve anxiety.
- Bergamot is an uplifting citrus scent that releases frustration and quells nervousness.
- Neroli is a powerful fragrance capable of calming the mind and heart to heal emotional exhaustion.
- Lavender is a family favorite to sooth and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Rose Otto balances the emotions for a sense of controlled calm.
- Frankincense is a meditative fragrance that encourages the ability to overcome obstacles.
- Clary Sage calms and balances the hormones.