The prevailing norm is to function in a state of “performance”, attaining a state of stasis to demonstrate resilience, to become esteemed members of society. In the “yang society” we live in, the valued part of human existence seems to be the “active part” that revolves around achievement, speed and success and if you do not meet up to this standard, this may evoke shame.
However, this approach runs counter to the natural order of things which is evident in the workings of celestial bodies, nature and people. The season of September, marks the onset of autumn, characterised by a “transition of energy” from yang (masculine) to yin (feminine). The natural world begins to descend into the darker days of winter.
Should we neglect to comply with the laws of nature, we may find ourselves in “conflict” with the inherent rhythm of existence, consequently causing turmoil to our state of being.
As we transition into the autumn yin energy, it matures and produces a plentiful harvest. This can be observed within ourselves, as everything comes to fruition and a sense of tranquillity ensues. Loose ends are tied up and there is a discernible reduction in activity. During this phase, there is no urge to expend a substantial amount of energy on projects.
“Healthy productivity” requires “flexibility”. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching emphasises the power of softness, using water as a metaphor; water is soft and flexible but also has the power to erode the hardest materials like rock and metal. To be like water, we must overcome hardness with flexibility. Adopting a soft approach can lead to long-term success and a peaceful state of mind. Softness is a strength, allowing us to adapt to different circumstances and avoid breaking under pressure.
Promoting a serene nervous system and a grounded presence is not synonymous with idleness and inefficiency. On the contrary, it fosters an environment that allows for opportunities to manifest. Have you ever noticed that when you relentlessly strive for something, it often eludes you? However, when you surrender and embrace the flow, things effortlessly fall into place and align with your life’s purpose. This phenomenon exemplifies the potency of feminine energy. Masculine and feminine energies are interconnected and should be harmoniously integrated to enhance one another’s strengths.
You may be thinking, “well Melissa, if you think that SAD is not just based upon the lack of Vitamin D but reflective of transitional energy shifts, surely, this happens the other way”. You are right, it does. “Yin patterns” of SAD: symptoms tend to lean towards depression, oversleeping, heaviness, overeating and weight gain. “Yang patterns” (spring/summer) of SAD: induce feelings of anxiety, lack of appetite, agitation, insomnia, irritability, anger and violent episodes.
“Ensure your Vitamin D levels are optimal”
Why is Vitamin D good?
Vitamin D is an exceptional mood stabiliser. It’s arguably the most crucial nutrient to maintain optimal levels of in the body all year round, in order to facilitate the production of effective hormones. It plays a pivotal role in the activation of DNA for protein synthesis, across all cell types. An NHS laboratory offers a “blood-spot test”, that can be obtained through the post to assess one’s vitamin D levels. It is important to note that the laboratory does not provide interpretation of the test results or recommend any subsequent actions and additional guidance would be necessary to respond appropriately to the findings. One of the most efficacious methods to enhance the circadian rhythm and promote restful sleep, is through 20 minutes of exposure to morning sunlight.
What sort of foods should we be eating to beat SAD and why/what do they do?
It is highly recommended to consume locally grown and seasonal foods, in order to provide the body with the necessary nutrition, for the specific time of year. It is imperative to select minimally processed and fresh foods to ensure that their vitamins and minerals remain intact. During the autumn season, it is advisable to increase the intake of Vitamin A, by selecting orange and yellow foods such as carrots, butternut squash and pumpkin. These will help to protect the nervous system, boost your immune system, help build strong bones and more… Don’t disrupt blood sugar regulation which can affect mood – opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, lentils and vegetables. Sprouted seeds are an excellent source of enzymes and easily digestible, providing exceptional protein and nutrition. Fermented foods are also highly recommended, as they aid in serotonin production in the gut which is essential for overall health. Medicinal mushrooms such as Coriolus and Lions Mane are known to support cognitive function, while Alpha Lipoic Acid is a natural mood enhancer.
What exactly does physical movement do to combat depression?
Engaging in physical activity triggers the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain which are known to enhance one’s mood. As we transition into autumn, the yin season, practicing Yin Yoga can be particularly beneficial for individuals, experiencing SAD. Yin Yoga is the feminine moon-side of yoga. It encourages a calm nervous system, being grounded and simply “being”. During the yin season, it is important to cultivate patience and connect with our intuitive selves, following what nature is reflecting back to us. Yin Yoga is an introspective, quiet, contemplative and reflective practice that can help alleviate depression, by promoting the flow of stagnant energy through mindful gentle stretching. People that suffer with depression are tightly coiled and therefore stagnant in energy and Yin Yoga promotes the flow of energy once again. It is a practice that fosters alertness without inducing lethargy.
How can acupuncture help SAD?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perceives disease as an imbalance between Yin and Yang. Acupuncture therapy aims to restore equilibrium and enhance the body’s natural healing abilities. TCM offers a comprehensive approach to treating depression by identifying root causes and addressing energetic imbalances. Acupuncture has demonstrated effective in treating pain, hormonal, immunological, neurological disorders and depression by harmonising energy and strengthening organ systems. In TCM, the Kidney system is nourished by the sun. Our Yin seasonal cycles lack sunlight, leading to Kidney stagnation, dampness, coldness and depression. Stagnant Liver Qi can result in frustration and depression.
Melissa Day, Cosmetic Acupuncturist at Niroshini 360
Melissa Day is a seasoned Integrative & Preventative Medicine Practitioner professional, specialising in microsystems acupuncture, based upon Traditional Chinese Medicine. With 17 years of experience in the Health, Wellness and Mental Health Industry, her purpose is to empower others, to understand their own journey of self-discovery, bridging the gap between their psychological and spiritual growth, to obtain optimum health and well-being.