How to prevent depression in the winter

09/10/2021

The end of November announces that winter will soon begin. In Ayurveda, we use knowledge about the seasons to prevent common tendencies that climatic changes generate in us. For this reason, I'm sharing how to identify and alleviate winter depression:


Winter starts as a Vata season and ends as a Kapha season. These two doshas are cold, following the warmth of the summer dominated by Pitta. This climate change causes a mood shift that, if not cared for, often turns into depression.


Although depression always carries a presence of sadness, it differs according to the doshas:


Vata depression appears as anxiety, fears, insomnia, emotional highs and lows, energy extremes, self-sabotaging behaviors, and desperation.


Pitta depression is less common in this season, but sometimes it appears because it's a constitution dominated by light, and there's less light in winter. This type of depression is deeply connected to feeling less successful, especially at work. People self-criticize until they feel awful both mentally and physically. From the outside, it looks like they are in a very bad mood and get angry a lot.


Kapha depression manifests with weight gain, excessive crying, lethargy, clouded thinking, excessive sleepiness, and seeking to eat heavy and sweet foods to cover emotions.


SOLUTIONS PROVIDED BY AYURVEDIC SCIENCE:


To alleviate Vata depression: rub the crown of the head and the soles of the feet with warm sesame oil daily, eat at the same times every day, and spend at least a few minutes every day interacting with others. Vata imbalance means we are often not 100% in our physical bodies, so using oil on the head and feet helps us ground. Vata feels insecure, so eating at the same times every day cultivates security and balance. Much of Vata depression is rooted in experiencing loneliness, sometimes without realizing that this is what they feel. Interacting with others helps them address this issue, even if it's just a conversation about simple topics every day.


To alleviate Pitta depression: rub the crown of the head with coconut oil before sleeping and meditate upon waking to start the day. Pitta imbalance is related to an abuse of the intellect since it's an intellectual constitution, and these two practices help balance the intellect so it can serve the individual rather than oppress them.


To alleviate Kapha depression: fast for a few hours drinking only ginger tea, or if you are a Kapha constitution, you can do this for an entire day a week, and do more sun salutations exercises. Kapha is heavy and cloudy, so fasting helps the individual lighten and clear up. Kapha depression represents energy stagnation in the body, and that's why more vigorous exercise, like sun salutations, is needed to help the energy start flowing again.


By Iris Campion.

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