For many people the late fall and winter can bring on unwanted changes in their emotional and physical state of well-being. Some find the shorter days to be slightly depressing and experience what is often called The Winter Blues”. This “feeling down” can sap their energy, disrupt sleep regular sleep schedules and cause weight gain.
Many experts claim that it’s normal to feel a little out of sorts every now and again during the winter months. It’s also widely believed that those feelings are related to hormonal changes - less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood.
In extreme cases, this is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the symptoms exhibited can be debilitating, interfering with work and relationships. Those that feel very depressed for days at a time should see their doctor for treatment.
If you don’t have SAD, but rather feel a bit down at this time of year, there are ways to help boost your mood.
It’s important to get out in the natural light. Spend at least 15 minutes a day outside. Take a walk at lunch or in the early morning hours. The sunlight regulates Vitamin D, both of which are important for the body to regulate itself. Many diagnosed with SAD are encouraged to use a light therapy box. See your doctor to determine if that is the right course of treatment for you.
Take Vitamin D
While some foods contain Vitamin D, including fish, eggs, cod liver oil and fortified milk, the most efficient way to get enough Vitamin D is with supplements.
During this time of year, many people are craving starchy and sweet foods. Avoid overindulging in these foods and instead stick to a well-balanced, healthy diet. This will keep your body strong and regulated. It will also help you avoid gaining weight, which can lead to feeling more depressed.
Exercise tends to boost your mood as it helps produce chemicals that provide an overall happy feeling. Make sure to get in about 30 minutes of exercise a day, five times a week.
Stick to Your Sleep Schedule
For some people it’s hard to get out of bed during the winter months. Fight the urge to sleep in and hibernate, Instead get up and get moving. It will make you feel more productive and less sluggish.
SocializeStay involved with your social circle and regular activities. being around friends and family can increase your happiness and provide important emotional support.