When the winter season comes upon us we associate it with festivities, family, happiness, moments to treasure, but then why do we seem sad? Why do we feel like we are putting more effort and energy into our daily routines and even more during certain events?
Winter is the time for shorter days, the sun rises and sets earlier in the day causing us to have less daylight. Physiologically we feel rushed, having the need to get everything done before the sun sets, and our brains connect darkness/nighttime with sleep making us more lethargic which can connect to depression. Another way to sum up the winter blues is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, which is a type of depression caused mostly during the winter cold months but can occur in the warmer months of spring and summer. Regardless of when it occurs, it is important to recognize the symptoms and to understand the steps to prevent or help lessen the disorder.
A few common symptoms one might observe are similar to those who are clinically depressed. These symptoms include sadness, hopelessness, general loss of interest in activities one might have enjoyed doing previously, withdrawal of social interaction even family events, over sleeping and the feeling of being “heavy” (portraying to body and mind energy). These symptoms do occur in most people but the ones who are most at risk are people who have already been diagnosed with a mental disorder such as depression or bipolar. Researchers are still unsure why SAD occurs but they believe it may be a direct effect from the lack of sunlight we receive during these months. Researchers also believe a brain chemical called serotonin may be related to SAD. Serotonin affects a person’s mood and is already known to be related to clinical depression. A drop in serotonin can lead to feelings of sadness and depression. It is possible that serotonin levels may also drop in response to reduced sunlight.
Have no fear! SAD has many ways that have been proven to so call “cure” the disorder and ways to prevent it from happening. Yes you can go talk to your general physician and possibly receive medicine but why must you feel the need to put more chemicals into your body when that is the sole reason it is throwing you off in the first place? You can treat SAD for free!
A few ways to treat SAD is:
Exercise- Daily exercise whether it be a simple walk with your dog or going to the gym for a workout, it will release your endorphin’s in your body causing happiness, uplift feeling, and energy.
Nutrition- What you eat plays a big role with the chemicals in your body so treat your body right to an abundance of fruits and vegetables as well as proper portions of carbohydrates and protein.
Sunlight- As much as possible even if it is cloudy outside try to step out and soak up as much vitamin D as possible, UV rays are able to break the barrier of clouds and if you are not able to get outside they have now created light therapy boxes which is simply a box that displays UV lights.
Relaxation- Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage or yoga to relax the mind, body, and soul. This will help any anxiety you may hold inside.
Talk to someone- A simple venting session or a casual conversation with a loved one may help, if you do not feel comfortable letting family or loved ones know what is going on it is okay to talk to a professional to help you through. As well as try to drive yourself to attend social events, you’ll be glad you did by the end of the event.
Take some time for yourself these cold winter months and analyze your behavior, just remember to be patient, determined, and open minded to the change that has happened and be willing to change yourself for the better.
Just be moreFIT.