Seasonal Depression, or Fighting the Winter Blues
I've been fighting a bit of seasonal depression. The cold weather hits, leaves start to fall, and I just want to hunker down with a mug of something warm. Since it's hard for me to write at the moment, I'm interrupting my ABC blog series again for a brief PSA on winter or seasonal depression, and what you can do to help cope with the dark winter months. Some affiliate links are included for convenience.
Although it's not overly common throughout the world, seasonal depression occurs most in women aged 20-30 and the further you are from the equator, the more likely it can become. There is even a name for it! Seasonal depression is clinically recognized as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. It's interesting to note that the more time you spend outdoors in the summer, the less likely it is that seasonal depression will affect you. The sunlight you absorb during the summer months can help carry you through the winter.
Rather than the symptoms of clinical depression such as mood changes, feeling hopeless, or constantly agitated, usually seasonal affective disorder symptoms are a little less severe, including:
Having low energy
Craving for carbohydrates
Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)
My personal favorite thing to do on a chilly day when I want to stay in and busy is make a roast that takes all day. It warms up the house, makes everything feel cozy, it gives me something to do, and is full of protein and good fats as well. Before I share my recipe with you, here's some of the worst things you can do, and what you should do instead.
Hibernate for the winter
This limits your vitamin D intake even more! Try to take brief walks or even bundle up for hikes, take "sun breaks" at work, or meditate outside for a few minutes. Whatever you can do to get yourself some sun will be wonderful for your skin, your overall mood, and possibly even help you sleep. When we don't get enough light during daytime hours, our sleep cycles can even be altered.
Load up on carbs
Vitamin D can be found in many food sources! Fatty fish such as salmon are recommended for reaching your daily allowance. You can also supplement your diet with mushrooms, eggs, or Vitamin D fortified milks. With daily time in the sun, just one of these sources would likely be enough to supplement your diet. You can always consult with a nutritionist for a detailed dietary plan.
With any kind of depression or slump, keeping your feelings to yourself is always a bad idea. Reach out to friends, family, take a trip if you can! The holidays are coming up, and that's a great break for most of us from our day to day routine. Take advantage of it! If you don't have family nearby, now is a great time of the year for volunteering. By giving to others, you'll get time out of the house and some joy as well.
Sometimes the winter months become monotonous because we don't move as much when we are inside. Yoga is a great activity you can do indoors, almost anywhere. This is my personal favorite yoga mat, and I’ve invested in a space heater to keep that area cozy and easy to stretch in. Bodyweight exercises or weightlifting are great. I personally can't stand treadmills, but there are all sorts of options for indoor equipment to choose from these days. Combine your exercise with sunlight or make it a group activity for an extra boost of positive energy!
Without further ado, here's my much altered recipe for Audrey Hepburn's Veal Roast with Mushroom Gravy. If you’re looking for a bit of light reading and some recipes, I highly recommend the book Audrey at Home. I hope you enjoy! Let’s grab a warm drink sometime.
Veal Roast with Mushroom Gravy
2 1/2 lbs veal, pork, or beef rump roast
Sage leaves, rosemary (bouquet garni or whatever herbs you desire)
1 clove garlic
2 T butter
3-4 carrots, washed, peeled, chopped
3-4 stalks celery, washed and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup dry white wine and/or stock
For the Sauce
2 c mushrooms (or more)
1 T room temperature butter
2-3 T Flour
Splash of cream
Place pats of butter in a pan over medium to high heat on the stove. Sear your meat on all sides before placing in a crockpot on the low setting. Surround your meat with the potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cover with chosen alcohol and/or stock, and add your herbs. You can’t go wrong by smelling and tasting as you go. That’s part of why I love this dish so much!
In the same pan you used to sear the roast, add some more butter and lower the heat a touch. Saute your garlic and onions until cooked through, pour this mixture on top of the roast in the crockpot. Cover and cook in the crockpot for at least 5 hours on low, so the meat will be tender.
When your roast is almost done, wash your mushrooms. Take half of the drippings and stock from the crockpot, and add with the mushrooms to a large saucepan on medium high heat. Simmer until mushrooms have cooked down.
Mash the butter and flour together, add to the pan. Add a splash of Bragg’s ACV and stock or wine, and cook that down as well until it looks like a thick gravy. Add a splash of cream if wanted, do not simmer after adding the cream! Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add fresh parsley. Serve immediately over the roast, and enjoy!