You can experience yoga’s benefits year-round, but your practice can be particularly helpful during the winter months. As the weather gets colder and the days shorter, many of us deal with seasonal depression. But don’t worry—the winter blues are no match for yoga!
What is seasonal depression?
Perhaps you’ve noticed that you start to lose energy once fall rolls around. For some of us, feelings of depression seep in. It’s not just in your head—the change in seasons really can affect your mental health!
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often called “seasonal depression,” is driven by seasonal changes. For most people, symptoms begin in the fall. From there, symptoms continue into the winter, often worsening.
Symptoms of seasonal depression
SAD’s symptoms tend to mirror those of other forms of depression. For example, people report feeling sad most days. Additionally, SAD often drains your energy, causing you to lose interest in their activities.
Other symptoms include:
- Sleeping too much
- Overeating, especially carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Reduced focus
- Feelings of loneliness and hopelessness
- Thoughts of self-harm
As with any condition, symptoms vary from person to person.
Causes of seasonal depression
So, how do the seasons affect our mood?
Scientists still don’t fully understand. However, there are a few factors that may contribute to SAD.
Decreased sunlight, for instance, may disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm. As a result, you may experience feelings of depression. Further, the reduced sunlight can lower your serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression. Winter is also associated with increased melatonin production, which makes you sleepy.
How can yoga help with seasonal depression?
Yoga helps counter SAD similarly to how it fights other forms of depression. How you use yoga to treat SAD will depend on your specific symptoms.
Stress is closely linked to depression. Thus, yoga can help with seasonal depression by lowering stress. As a form of exercise, yoga engages your entire body, rushing oxygen-rich blood all over. This helps relieve tension, reducing stress. Practicing yoga also releases endorphins, flooding your brain with pleasurable chemicals.
Moreover, yoga boosts your serotonin levels, which naturally drop during the winter. Think of serotonin as your brain’s “happy” chemical—the more of it, the better!
Yoga’s effects on mood and mindfulness also encourage healthier eating. So, your practice can help you stave off those junk food cravings! Plus, the calories burned will help guard against any unwanted weight gain.
Yoga can also help get your focus back on track. Its emphasis on focusing on one’s breath and clearing the mind has benefits far beyond the mat. With a consistent practice, you regularly train yourself to concentrate and ignore distractions. Your brain forges new neural connections, increasing your ability to focus.
Controlling your breath during yoga also helps relieve depressive symptoms. When you slow your breathing, you activate your sympathetic nervous system. This in turn lowers your blood pressure and relaxes your body.
Yoga also increases your self-awareness. When you set your intention, you infuse meaning into your practice. Yoga teaches you to be present and grateful for all the positive things in your life. As a result, your perspective may brighten as you exhale all negativities.
Try yoga to treat your seasonal depression today!
As you can see, there is no need to give into seasonal depression. Although you can’t stop the seasons from changing, a consistent yoga practice keeps symptoms in check.
With Flowell, it’s never been easier to find the best yoga classes. Sign up for free and choose from a diverse roster of instructors and classes! And don’t worry if you’re snowed in or just don’t want to leave your home. All of Flowell’s classes take place in a virtual studio.
So, what are you waiting for? Head to Flowell.co and sign up today to start flowing!