Admittingly, winter time is tough for me. The cold weather can be very bitter and I have struggled with the dark and winter days. The winter blues or seasonal affective disorder affects 10-20% of people (numbers may be higher!) As a result, I have learned how to best take care of myself during this particular season. First, keep in mind that with long dark days and staying indoors more limits our exposure of vitamin D (naturally absorbed from the sun). Vitamin D, when absorbed, activates and releases neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, etc). With limited vitamin D, that process of activation and release is less. Which could result, in higher levels of anxiety and depression. For more information click here . Second, in order to better manage the winter blues, you have to acknowledge its effect on your well-being and treat it seriously. The following are suggestions that I would recommend to you if you are having a hard time this winter season. As always talking to a professional (doctor, nurse, therapist, etc) is always in your best interest and something I highly recommend.
1. Stay active – Make sure you build exercise into your life. I’ve movement and the importance of moving daily many times in previous posts. I’ll say it again, movement/exercise for improving mental health is a great lifestyle habit.
2. Stay warm – Layer up! Go ahead and wear plenty of clothes. Consuming warm and hot drinks and meals are said to promote energy and get the body moving.
3. Go outside – Open the curtains and get all the light you can. I’ve gotten into the habit of opening each window of my home for 15 minutes even on cold days (not all of them at once, that would be too much!) I make sure I am warm and I crack open the window to let fresh air into the home. It is very invigorating.
4. Spend time with other people – Despite our hibernating in the winter time, don’t isolate yourself. Plan a game night or host a dinner. The point is to connect with others to keep your spirits high.
In summary, like any change in your mood or mental state, season affective disorder requires care. The quality of your life is important and therefore something that shouldn’t be taken lightly or for granted.