Shorter days, longer nights, and colder temperatures impact our mood and behavior. The reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter can affect your biological clock, circadian rhythm, and the sufficient production of the hormones serotonin and melatonin. If you feel that your mood, sleep, and eating habits are persistently affected and that chronic pain symptoms are worsening, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Typically, patients come into our practice seeking pain relief. However, they often find that continuing treatment, particularly in the colder months, can make a significant impact on their overall mood and wellbeing. Specific exercises and acupuncture points can help nourish and strengthen one's energy to promote better sleep and relieve fatigue, restlessness, and irritability.
Your lifestyle habits can have a profound effect on your body’s response to seasonal changes. Here are our top tips:
Exercise: Get your body moving in the morning, preferably outside. A simple brisk walk gets your heart pumping and lets you take in a good dose of sunlight.
Sunlight: Take time to get some sun. Go for one more walk in the afternoon (maybe even catch the sunset!) We also recommend working and/or sitting near a window to allow exposure to natural light. If you can't avoid being indoors most of the day, we suggest using a light therapy lamp as an alternative.
Earlier to bed: Give yourself a favorable start to the day by getting plenty of sleep. While adjusting your sleep cycle can be challenging, your chances of getting sufficient sleep and going outside for a walk in the early hours are better if you go to bed earlier.
Warming foods: Fill up your soup bowl. According to traditional Chinese medicine, eating more warming foods, like soups and stews with lots of vegetables, can help reduce feelings of heaviness and depression. On the flip side, eating cold foods and drinks, especially with added sugar, can cause blood sugar levels to rise and then fall and may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Also, sour flavors and probiotics with fermented foods are ideal this season since we often eat heavier meals in the fall and winter.
Acupuncture: Specific acupuncture points, including Kidney 3, are essential in treating chronic conditions and are known to strengthen willpower. Tonifying the kidney meridian, as well as addressing one’s particular constitution, can be beneficial in helping transform seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Read more about how acupuncture points can help relieve symptoms of SAD in Acupuncture Today.
If you are suffering from chronic pain and seasonal affective disorder, please give us a call at 973-910-1441 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
Christine Marcarian, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist, massage therapist, and herbalist. She earned a Master of Science in Acupuncture in 2008 and a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2010 from the Tristate College of Acupuncture in New York, NY. Early in her career, Christine worked in hospital settings and private orthopedic practices. She is certified in Sports Medical Acupuncture giving her the tools to properly assess, diagnose, and treat various orthopedic injuries and chronic pain. As a certified MELT practitioner, Christine incorporates myofascial release into her acupuncture and massage treatments. She is also certified in oncology acupuncture.