Ever feel like January lasts at least 3 months? Maybe you notice it’s more difficult to get moving during the winter? Roughly 10-20% of Americans report feeling tired or sad when there are fewer hours of daylight during the winter months, resulting in a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. For many, the symptoms of SAD such as fatigue, overeating, loss of interest in activities, or difficulty concentrating are still manageable and they can function in their daily lives; however, others may experience a clinical form of depression. Genetics, gender, and biochemical imbalances can also factor into the occurrence of SAD. There are ways to combat the common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and get your motivation level up.
• Exposure to natural light, especially in the morning when waking up, gives the body natural mood-altering signals. Open the curtains in the morning for a quick boost.
• Maintaining your normal routine is one of the most helpful ways to battle SAD. Don’t neglect your favorite hobbies or sports when the weather turns dreary.
• Working out provides a release of endorphins, which make you feel happier and ward off the blues.
• Reduce sugar intake and opt for eating meals with good sources of protein and fiber. Sugar gives a temporary energy boost followed by a crash as opposed to the sustainable energy that a well-rounded meal provides. Plus, the sugary stuff leads to weight gains and increases the risk of developing diabetes and certain cancers.
• Getting outside brings us more of that natural light, but studies show it stress relieving to breath in some fresh air. When it’s cold we are tempted to hibernate and hide out, but even a 5 minute walk can be a difference-maker.
• Develop wintertime interests if you’re forced to give up your favorite good weather past times. Sign-up for a fitness class, go ice skating or skiing, or whip up some new recipes in the kitchen. Staying busy and engaged keeps the weather-induced depression away.
• Try relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or breathing exercises or take up yoga. Meditation and related activities have been shown to change neural networks and decrease stress.