Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) affects many of us and causes us to dread the onset of autumn and winter. S.A.D. is believed to be caused by changes in light, more specifically a lack of light. But to really solve the puzzle of how to not dread the change of season, we must first recognize it’s not just about the dark! Ayurveda points to many other factors that are in play this time of year that affect mood and by understanding and addressing them we can make friends with this season.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, there are many other aspects associated with autumn beyond light that contribute to the blues. The airy qualities that are prevalent in autumn are associated with wind, which is very light, moveable, drying, and on they chilly side. Just as the changes in the season affect nature – leaves turning color and falling from trees, perennials dying back and storing energy, animals gathering food for winter – the surrounding lightness, desiccation, chill, and wind that mark the transition also have a profound affect on the cells of our body.
Ayurveda treats imbalances caused by excessive qualities by balancing them out with opposite qualities. This means if light, dry, cold, moveable qualities are prevalent in nature, treatment will involve the cultivation of the opposite qualities of heaviness, moistness, warmth, and stability. While light therapy can be an effective way of addressing SAD, we will have even better results if we cultivate these seasonally appropriate qualities through all five of the senses.
Sensory stimuli like sight, smell, touch, sound and most significantly, taste can be heavy or light, cooling or warming, stabilizing or dispersing. Choosing grounding, warming, stabilizing colors to surround ourselves with, soothing aromatherapy scents, self-massage with specific oils, music, and seasonally appropriate food and spices are all little known, but incredibly potent means of helping us feel happy and healthy this time of year.
Embrace the Season: The introspective landscape we observe at this time of year– Mother Nature releasing her foliage and turning her energy into essential functions– is a lovely teacher. This is the time of year to turn inside, hang out by the hearth with close friends and family, make fires, eat warm, heavy stews, and create energetic warmth. This is not a great time of year to start new projects, but instead journal on ideas and honor the introspective energy that will bear full fruit in the spring.
For those who need more convincing that there are many ways to balance the affects of the darker, colder seasons, check out this story on hygee, a Danish concept that is considered the likely reason that Danes are among the world’s happiest people despite living in a bitterly cold country with virtually no light in winter. If the Danes can make friends with the fall and winter, surely we can too!
Learn more about Leah’s work, and book online get a head start on the season!