It’s estimated that approx. 12 million Americans are affected by ‘winter blues’ or seasonal depression in winter. This kind of illness is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The symptoms of SAD include feeling sluggish in the morning, food cravings and weight gain. Experts have connected this seasonal depression to the shorter days. The lack of light disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm and induces higher than usual production of the hormone melatonin – which usually helps to bring on sleep, but can cause depression symptoms in higher amounts. I have suffered from this myself for many years and it is absolutlely miserable! This poses a question. How can we beat the winter blues? Let me share some things that have helped me.
A dose of sunlight and fresh air will balance out your body’s rhythms and pump in more oxygen into the body. Natural light lowers your melatonin levels and boosts production of Vitamin D. I know the weather isn’t pleasant, but if you bundle up warm and invest in a good pair of winter boots, the cold air can be invigorating. take some ear buds and listen to music while you walk!
Exercising and staying active keeps the body’s metabolism up. Exercise helps kick release the hormone dopamine which is a feel good hormone. The health benefits of exercise include higher immunity – to keep off common ailments that come in winter as cold and flu and a plethora of other health benefits.
A healthy diet keeps the body’s energy levels up and fights off sugar cravings. This helps avoid piling on the pounds. A healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables will also boost the body’s immunity against common seasonal ailments. I also recommend a good quality multivitamin, a vitamin C supplement and calcium/magnesium.
Light is very effective in fighting off seasonal depression. If you are in a place where days get considerably shorter in winter, light therapy can work in simulating natural sunlight. Sitting in front of a light box is helpful. Light boxes give off stronger light than usual lighting in the office and at home. You can also use alarm triggered lights that mimic sunrise and help your body’s rhythm adapt the changing light patterns.
Connect with people
The feeling of darkness and isolation is reinforced if you have minimal interaction with people. Getting out there and connecting with friends and family is guaranteed to keep your spirits up. You can also share any problems that are pressing you. Just talking about your problems can lift a huge load off your shoulders. Be silly, and have a good laugh. Laughter is the medicine of the soul!
Stay warm to Beat the Winter Blues
Being cold triggers a defensive mechanism in the body which includes storing more fat which can lead to adding weight. Studies have shown that being warm can reduce the risk of developing seasonal depression by half. Aim to stay at between 18-21 degrees Celsius warm. Taking hot drinks and dressing for the weather is strongly advised.
Keeping mentally alert will help you fight away the melancholy. Find a new interest or take up an old one. I’ve gotten involved in a vocal group recently, and I love it. I also volunteer once a week as a Sparks leader and the kids warm my heart. I paint, and I read. I play a couple of instruments (not well, but I enjoy it anyway). All of these things give me pleasure and help get me through the blue months of winter.
Hope this helps! Much love as always, and stay warm!
If you enjoyed this article, or if you have additional tips that you’d like to add – please leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!