Mandatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor (yet), what I describe here is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. I encourage you to do research on your own and take that research to discuss it with your doctor.
I first figured out that I had SAD when I lived in Washington state in elementary school, when it wasn’t widely known exactly how to combat it. This means that I have been dealing with it for a while. In 2006, I got a Happy Lite, which definitely helped a lot and was the main source of treatment for SAD for a long time.
However, I found myself still lagging a little in the emotional department. At the end of 2009, I discovered that Vitamin D plays a big role in not only SAD, but health in general. It plays a big part in immune health and mental health.
Using a combination of the Happy Lite and Vitamin D definitely improved my mood, but I when I moved to Alaska, I had to up the anti. These years living in Alaska has a rough effect on my mood. I found that I was allergic to St. John’s Wort, which is a well known herb for depression and SAD in mild to moderate cases. So I started collecting yarrow during the summer and using it during the winter months (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Herbal Remedies Frankie Avalon Wolfe, Appendix C p. 368 use for anxiety, Discovering Wild Plants Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest Janice J. Schofield p. 318-321 Under Historical Use p. 320 yarrow was used for dream pillows “to prevent melancholy”) as a tea. I also *gasp!* started drinking coffee for the mood boost that caffeine gives you. I DESPISE the taste of coffee, so I would put plain cocoa and a lot of stevia in it to make it palatable.
More recently, as of last year really, new research has come to show that not only your immune system, but your mental health as well is affected by the content of your gut flora. So I tried some different probiotics until I found one that truly helped, and holy crap it’s awesome.
Something else that I have added in the last week or so is making sure I get outside in the forest around my house. I lived here for almost two years and really don’t spend a lot of time in the trees around here, or outside enough. More research has shown that being out in the forest (called Forest Bathing) without any technical devices is good for mental health. While going barefoot is best, I’m not doing that during the winter here. It’s really not only being out in nature, it’s the exercise. I’m taking Hunter, my dog, along with me. He LOVES running around the forest, so when I have him on the leash, he tends to pull me along. Thank goodness for cleats or I would be falling flat on my butt or face.
When all of these powers combine, my mental health soars. Here’s my current regiment so you have a more concise idea: Vitamin D, probiotics, coffee in the morning/green tea throughout the day, a long walk with Hunter, some time spent in the actual forest, Happy Lite, good music (well, music that I like anyways), and honestly being around people that I like, so hanging out with good friends and having meaningful conversation that isn’t shallow.