From the Magazine

3 Natural Ways to Avoid the Holiday Blues

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Despite the nonstop hype (or maybe because of it!), more than 50 percent of us will end up feeling sad or down during the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s trifecta. Complete relief? It’s closer at hand than you might think. Try the easy remedies below to keep the holiday blues at bay. 

Breathe in this all night

You already know lavender is one of nature’s most calming scents — turns out, it’s a blues buster too. Australian research found that 88 percent of folks who breathed in the scent reported a boost in mood. Pop a sachet in the dryer to infuse sheets so you’ll inhale it all night. “Lavender signals to the brain that it is time to wind down, reduce stress and set the stage for sleep,” says Shelby Harris, Psy.D., behavioral sleep medicine psychologist and author of The Women’s Guide to Overcoming Insomnia ($10.29, Amazon). This is especially important in light of recent Harvard reporting that finds 90 percent of people with depression get trapped in a cycle where chronic insomnia worsens symptoms.

Sing “Hallelujah”

A large new Irish study finds that people 50 or over who regularly attend religious services have significantly lower levels of depression. “Faith not only reminds us that our lives have meaning, being part of a religious community can also give us a ready-made sense of a support network, and people who feel connected to others report less depression,” says Michael Ungar, Ph.D., author of Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success ($14.95, Amazon). “What’s important is finding a group of people who share a common set of values, who value our contribution and who need us.” Not a church- or temple-goer? Joining any positive, purposedriven group can deliver similar benefits.

Spoon up mushroom soup

Winter’s dark days cause levels of vitamin D (aka “the sunshine vitamin”) to plummet, upping our chance of depression by 75 percent, according to new European research. The delicious fix: Tuck into a bowl of mushroom soup. It’s the only veggie that’s packed with vitamin D. Tip: Mushroom varieties like chanterelles, morels and shiitake grow in the sun and contain up to 300 percent of your RDA of D in a single portion.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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