Category Archives for Seasonal Depression

Intentional Meal Planning for Intentional Living

The essence of intentional living is to lead your life the way you intended it be. Often our intentions get pushed aside by our hurried lives and we end up acting on autopilot, which leaves us feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. Our previous post gives simple tips for living more out of intention and less out of habit. Intentional meal planning is another tool to help live more intentionally. After all, if we’re “hangry” it’s less likely we’ll be able to follow through on our intentions. intentional meal planning

Meal planning can be difficult with the demands of life. However, intentional meal planning can make meal the process so much simpler along with making your life run more smoothly. Making meals at home not only saves your pocket book, but also helps to be intentional about what you’re eating. There is nothing like a home cooked meal!

Planning meals according to the season is one way to plan with intention. Another key to intentional meal planning is to look on your calendar for the upcoming month. This will allow for you to plan around upcoming events, work meetings, etc. Once you have an idea of what your week will look like you can then decide whether you want to make a crockpot meal, a quick meal, or possibly leftovers. Typically, if you plan to cook three night out of the week, that will allow for at least two nights of leftovers. intentional meal planning

Winter time is perfect for warm crock pot meals, like soups and stews. There’s nothing more comforting than coming home to the aromas of a warm meal on a winter night. The best thing about crock pots is that you can leave them on for 8-10 hours while you’re away from home. Taking a little time for preparation over the weekend can make the work week so much easier.

Here are some ways to be more intentional with meal planning: intentional meal planning

  • Review your calendar – Take note of the upcoming events for the month. Will it be a day of running errands? Will you be in a meeting or attending another event? (Keeping a calendar in the kitchen helps keep the whole family in sync with one another)
  • Write out your meal plan – Make a meal plan based on the season, picking seasonal produce, and make meals accordingly.
  • Take inventory – Create a shopping list based on what you already have, and what meals you’re planning for the week.
  • Write a shopping list – Write out a “cook this/buy that” shopping list to ensure you have all ingredients for the planned meals.
  • Prepare over the weekend – Plan out meals and begin meal prep on the weekend, before the weeks activities unfold. This will bring peace of mind, helping you be more intentional.

Meal planning with fresh foods helps make the work week run more smoothly, creating less stress, and providing more energy to your day! If you’re looking to make lifestyle and diet changes, contact us today if you’re interesting in nutritional counseling, help meal planning, stress management, and support for overall wellness! We’re happy to help you on your wellness journey!

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

Natural Remedies to Beat the “Winter Blues”

Winter is the time of year we love to keep cozy, spend time with family and friends, and eat lots of good food. For some though, it can be a time of increased sadness. Comfort food is more often consumed along with decreased physical activity, which can lead to low mood and energy, increasing the risk of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) affects more than half a million Americans each year and is a recognized form of clinical depression, commonly referred to as the “winter blues” or “winter depression.” Stressful life events, family history, or other emotional issues may contribute to S.A.D. Women are more commonly reported to have S.A.D. However, it may occur with anyone, regardless of age or gender. winter blues

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in seeking the proper treatment. Symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe, usually occurring between the months of September and April. People generally experience more severe symptoms between the months of December and February.

Symptoms typically include:

  • Negative thoughts and feelings of sadness
  • Irritability
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Increased food cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social isolation
  • Sleep disturbances

 

Scientists believe vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight may be one of the causes of S.A.D. This is because of vitamin D deficiency preventing a part of the brain, known as the hypothalamus, from working properly. In turn, the disruption in the function of the hypothalamus leads to an imbalance in circadian rhythms. When circadian rhythms are out of balance, melatonin and serotonin levels can be affected.

People with S.A.D have been noted as having higher levels of melatonin, causing sleep disturbances and fatigue. Serotonin (the happy hormone) levels may decrease due to this lack of sleep, causing mood disturbances. So, what are some ways we can combat this? Consider the following natural remedies.

Natural Remedies to Beat the “Winter Blues” (or S.A.D) winter blues

  • Exercise Regularly – Exercise increases the brains feel-good chemicals, reducing feelings of depression. Studies have shown walking just 20-30 minutes can boost your mood and energy!
  • Get some Vitamin D – Taking a vitamin D supplement can help boost mood and immunity. A doctor or nutritionist can recommend a proper dose.
  • Sleep – Rest is vital to emotional health. Avoid excess sugar and caffeine to promote restful sleep. Try going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.
  • Get Outside –Take advantage when the sun does decide to peek through during winter months. Bundle up and ask a friend to go on a short walk or hike. It can do wonders for your mood overall wellness!
  • Talk It Out – Discussing your feelings with a trained counselor can help you overcome feelings of sadness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is recommended to promote positive thinking and behaviors. It can help you approach situations differently, turning your BLUE thoughts into TRUE thoughts.
  • Practice Self-Care – Spend time doing something you enjoy. Treat yourself to a massage. Finding ways to relax and be more mindful reduces stress, helping boost mood.
  • Healthy Eating – Comfort foods are easy to reach for when feeling sad. Sweets and excess carbs may produce good feelings short-term. Unfortunately, this can turn into a downward spiral, causing low mood and an imbalance in hormone levels. Leafy greens, protein, and healthy carbohydrates can help boost mood and energy, reducing symptoms of depression. Talking with a nutritionist can help guide you through a meal plan to fit with your personal lifestyle.

If you’re interested in further support with mood, diet, and lifestyle changes, Makin Wellness offers a holistic, integrative approach to therapy and nutritional counseling. Encompassing mind, body, and spirit, we give consideration to the whole person. Contact us today for a free 15-minute consultation ! winter blues

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017, Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assited treatment and relationship counseling.  M

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, BA, CHN Makin Wellness

Seasonal Depression in Pittsburgh

About 3 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression occurs during the same season every year. You might have feel feeling depressed the past two winters, but cheered up during the warmer months. Or you may have felt down during the summer.

Everyone could get seasonal depression, but it tends to be much more common in :

  • People who have families who have SAD
  • Women
  • Individuals between 15 and 55 years old
  • Individuals who live in an areas where winter daylight time is very short

 

No mental health experts are exactly sure of what specifically causes SAD, but many think lack of sunlight is a big trigger. This lack of light could mess up your circadian rhythms or cause problems with serotonin which is the chemical that affects your mood.

The lack of sunlight in Pittsburgh is extreme compared to many other cities across the US. We also tend to be cloudy which blocks out a lot of sunlight. That combined with the recent freezing temperatures has kept a lot of people inside and not taking absorbing vitamin D from the sun. Actually, about 10% of adults living in the United States have a Vitamin D deficiency.

You might be wondering if you have seasonal depression or SAD. Here are the symptoms:

  • Feeling grumpy, sad , nervous of having mood swings
  • Anhedonia or lack of pleasure in things you normally love
  • Eating much more or less than usual
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleeping a lot more than you normally do, but still feeling slugging
  • Difficulty concentrating

It is so important to look at SAD in a holistic manner before getting diagnosed. In addition to therapy, it’s crucial to see your doctor so she or he can run blood tests to rule out any other conditions that may be making you feel blue. One of these common ones is hypothyroidism or low thyroid. At Makin Wellness, we could do the mental heath assessment .

Treatment

There are multiple ways to help treat seasonal depression. Light therapy can be used, but counseling is one of the most effective ways of treating SAD. Cognitive behavioral therapy at Makin Wellness can help you learn more about seasonal depression , how to manage your symptoms and ways to prevent future episodes. Medication can also be prescribed and taken to help alleviate some or your symptoms. Antidepressants such as Zoloft, Effexor and Wellbutrin are most commonly prescribed for SAD.  Vitamin D supplements or foods rich in Vitamin D like yogurt, salmon, shitake mushrooms and freshly squeezed OJ can help combat any potential Vitamin D deficiencies you could have. Be sure to talk with your doctor and therapist about any side effects from your medication and check with your MD about Vit D supplementation .

If you are struggling with seasonal depression, call us today at 412-532-1249 to schedule your free phone consultation.

 

Sara Makin,M.S.Ed.,NCC

Sara Makin,M.S.Ed.,NCC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is therapy and coaching center located at 239 Fourth Avenue, Suite 1801 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again.  Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .