Feeling glum? Perhaps a bit lethargic? You may be suffering from the winter blues. According to Norman Rosenthal, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, the seemingly endless succession of short and dreary winter days trigger biochemical changes that can result in mild depression, overeating, sleep problems, and a lack of concentration and energy—seasonal problems that are more common than you might think. In fact, Rosenthal estimates that 14 percent of Americans experience mild depression from December to February, particularly those living in northern regions.
A healthy diet and exercise can help keep the blues at bay, but if your mood still seems as gray as the winter sky, try some aromatherapy. Clinical trials show that aromatherapy reduces anxiety and depression, improves sleep, and enhances a sense of well-being. In one study, University of Miami researchers reviewed the electroencephalograms (EEG, a test that measures brain waves) of 39 adults and 27 newborns exposed to aromatherapeutic essential oils and found that certain scents actually “turn on” the areas of the brain that affect mood.
For a quick winter pick-me-up, try incorporating the following essential oils into your life. But use caution: Essential oils are highly concentrated, so make sure to dilute them in a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or grape seed oil, if you plan to apply to skin for a massage. Keep all essential oils out of children’s reach, and never take them internally.