Highly Effective Meditation For Seasonal Affective Disorder

meditation for seasonal affective disorder

Yes, you can use meditation for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

If you’re like me, when the winter comes and the sky turns dark and the weather plummets, you start to feel down. I’ve suffered from the winter blues ever since I was a pudgy-faced teenager. In fact, I don’t just suffer from the winter blues. I have full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition in which changes in the weather cause low moods. It is caused by a combination of lowered serotonin levels, lowered melatonin levels, and changes in circadian rhythm [1].

There are many different treatment options for seasonal affective disorder. They include Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs), light therapy, psychotherapy, yoga, tai chi, and meditation [2].

As a meditation teacher, I am, of course, predisposed to use meditation for seasonal affective disorder. I have been using meditation for seasonal affective disorder since I was twenty-one. And it has helped me to stay in good moods when it’s dark out. I find that meditation helps me control my emotions.

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Best Meditation For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sit comfortably with good posture. Make sure your spine is straight but relaxed.

Close your eyes.

Take a minimum of 28 mindful breaths to relax. Simply observe your breath moving around your body.

Now bring to mind the perfect day in the ideal type of weather you would like to be in. For most people this will be a warm and hot day. Note that science shows that when we visualize spending time in nature and in ideal weather, we get many of the benefits we would get if we actually were outside in nice weather.

Truly visualize your scene. Where are you? Do you see trees? Do you her animals? Can you feel the warm sun on your skin? Visualize these details.

Continue visualizing your perfect scene, in the ideal weather, for fifteen minutes.

More Meditations For Seasonal Affective Disorder

According to SAD expert Norman Rosenthal, the following are the best meditations for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Mindfulness:

Trait Mindfulness (the quality of actual being mindful, as opposed to State Mindfulness, an actual meditation technique) can help to reduce the symptoms of S.A.D according to Rosenthal. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing the mind on the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude. This helps us to avoid sinking into the mind.

Vipassana:

Vipassana (Insight) is a meditation in which we label mental phenomena like thoughts and feelings. The reason to use this meditation for Seasonal Affective Disorder is that it makes us less reactive to negative thoughts and feelings.

Loving-kindness:

Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta) is an excellent way of promoting positive feelings. When we do this, we visualize giving and receiving thoughts and feelings of love and kindness to and from other people. Metta increases feelings of social connection, which helps to combat the isolation of winter.

Open monitoring:

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Opening Monitoring is a method in which we open the mind to the entirety of our surroundings. We don’t focus on any one singular thing. Instead, we let the entirety of the moment come to us. This is regarded as one of the most relaxing meditations you can do.

Walking meditation (Kinhin):

Kinhin, or “Walking Meditation” is essentially walking mindfully. This boosts the mind-body connection (which can be low in winter when we are less active). Plus, it gives us an opportunity to meditate outside, so we get some sunlight, serotonin, and Vitamin D.

Forest Bathing Visualization:

This is my personal recommendation, rather than Rosenthals. Whenever I can’t get out for a hike, I like to imagine I’m in a forest. The mind struggles to differentiate between that which is real and that which is imagined. Therefore, visualizing that you’re in a forest can make you feel like you actually are in a forest. Read my guide to Forest Bathing Meditation.

Benefits of Meditation For Seasonal Affective Disorder

One expert who advocates the use of meditation for Seasonal Affective Disorder is Norman Rosenthal (South African author, psychiatrist and scientist who first described winter depression or seasonal affective disorder in the 1980s and founded the use of light therapy for SAD). [3]

Rosenthal states that it is imperative to find ways to reduce stress to combat SAD. He discovered that walking, yoga, tai chi, exercise, mindfulness and meditation are beneficial for beating the winter blues (he also suggests a diet of vegetables, lots of protein, unprocessed foods, and complex carbs).

Rosenthal states, “I have been enormously helped in managing my own SAD symptoms since regularly practising Transcendental Meditation… and other forms of meditation – such as mindfulness, which includes insight meditation (Vipassana), loving-kindness, open field meditation (such as monitoring one’s breathing), and walking meditation. “

Meditation helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder in the following ways:

  • Reduces the symptoms of depression
  • Meditation helps maintain serotonin levels during the winter
  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances our ability to solve problems (problem-solving skills have been shown to be reduced in the winter)
  • Helps us be less reactive to negative emotions
  • Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta) enhances feelings of social connection to reduce the isolation many people feel in the winter.

For me personally, meditation helps me with Seasonal Affective Disorder because it stops me from sinking into depression. It lets me keep my head “above the water”, so to speak, so that even if I do experience low moods, I am not so affected by them, and I can continue to live my life.

I also find that visualizations, such as visualizing that I am in a forest on a bright and warm day, can help me to feel more positive even if I don’t actually leave the house. This is probably because the mind cannot distinguish between that which is imagined and that which is real. So, if you imagine you are out on a hike on a sunny day, your mind will think that you actually have been on a hike on a bright day.

Yes, there are many benefits of meditation for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The exact way in which meditation helps with SAD will depend on the type of meditation you do.

Let’s take a look at the best meditations for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Final Thoughts

Meditation has helped me to control my Seasonal Affective Disorder. It gives me control of my emotions in the winter. I’m certain it can help you too.

Do you suffer from SAD or winter blues? Would you like to learn meditation? Book an online meditation lesson with me today.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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