Fighting the Winter Blues

Written By Chaunice Chapman

There’s a seasonal chill in the air, and while some are getting spicy with ‘salted caramel pumpkin spice apple cinnamon chai latte’ everything, some of us are starting to feel SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects an average of 10 million Americans annually, and women are four times more likely to be affected than men. We commonly refer to the milder version of SAD as ‘The winter blues.’ Symptoms can include depression, difficulty sleeping or eating, trouble concentrating, a lack of energy, or even weight changes. While scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes it, most agree that less access to sunlight can potentially change the hormone levels in your body. A drop in Serotonin – which affects mood, and a rise in Melatonin – which helps regulate sleep patterns, could be all it takes to put us in our feelings. So what can we do about that? We can’t exactly therapize the sun back into our lives for winter, can we? Of course not, but don’t lose hope. Here’s a list of things you can do to help you start feeling sunny again.

Let the light in: Find a way to get more light into your days.

One of the most common treatments for SAD is some form of light therapy. It could be as simple as getting a small light box to illuminate your space or changing your window treatments to allow for more light.

Check your diet: Choose foods that boost your energy levels and foster a better mood. Dark leafy green veggies like kale and bright orange carrots are packed with nutrients that improve mood, and Complex carbohydrates are great for giving your body lasting energy. In addition, lack of sunlight can contribute to low Vitamin D levels. Talk to your doctor about whether a supplement is right for you.

Exercise: It can be tough to drag yourself to it, but once you get going, exercise is one of the best mood boosters. When we get active, our bodies release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine which are related to positive feelings, and limit our production of adrenaline and cortisol, which promote less pleasant emotions like anxiety and tension. Exercise is also a great reason to go outside and snag some natural sunlight.

Brighten your day another way: Find something that makes you feel sunny on the inside. Whether a fresh mani-pedi or a fresh coat of wall paint, find something that stimulates you and go for it. Even a new essential oil or perfume can change your perspective for the better.

Get out of Dodge: Give yourself some space. Book a trip to a sunnier climate if you’re able; perhaps time in the sun’s heat is just the remedy you need. If travel is not in the plans, consider a staycation. Make time for only what you WANT to do. See a concert, hang out with friends, or curl up in a rocking chair with a Triad Voice Magazine.

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