It is no coincidence that millions of people all of the sudden feel down when fall ends and winter begins. Winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing. It goes beyond just not wanting to go outside in the freezing cold weather. Who wants to do that even when they aren’t feeling down?! It can be attributed to physiological changes in human beings. Some people are affected much more than others, but you don’t have to be diagnosed with depression to feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
So, what is going on with your body?
Well, while the cause(s) of Seasonal Affective Disorder are not proven, according to medical experts, it is highly likely that environmental changes trigger a reduction in the creation of a chemical in your brain called serotonin. Serotonin is a major player in mood regulation. The afore mentioned environmental changes potentially associated with the unbalancing of a person’s mood include:
- Reduction in exposure to sunlight. Whether sunlight is simply unavailable due to increased cloud cover or you just don’t want to be out in the sunlight because it is freezing cold, you could be susceptible to depression-like symptoms.
- Reduced physical activity. As stated before, poor weather conditions lead us to retreat to the great indoors. For many people, that means less exercise. A lack of exercise is shown to decrease serotonin levels.
What are the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Be sure to keep an eye on how you are feeling. Take a few minutes everyday to check in with yourself. Look out for:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Increased appetite without increased activity
- Increased impulse to be alone
- Weight gain
- Less energy overall
What can you do?
It is important to start off by saying, if you have diagnosed depression, anxiety, or any other condition and you take medication for it, you should talk to your doctor about medication changes during the winter months.
If you have Winter Blues, here are several ways to fight it:
- This can be difficult in the confined space of your home. Most gyms are still closed because of COVID. If you can get a treadmill or an exercise bike, great! If not, use YouTube or any other apps to get access to free home workout routines.
- Eat healthy. It is so easy to fall into a bad diet during the holidays. The difference a healthy diet can make is simply remarkable.
- Try light therapy. You can get safe, effective full-spectrum light sources online for less than $30. You can start by sitting by the light once a day for 10-15 minutes and increase from there as needed. It is important to note that you should not look directly into the light.
The Winter Blues is nothing to be ashamed of. It affects millions of people every year and it can, in many cases, be easily managed. Don’t let winter keep you down!
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