Have you ever found yourself feeling down around the holidays, maybe late fall through the winter months? It’s not your imagination. You are probably experiencing “winter blues,” a version of seasonal depression. Those winter blues are fairly common and may have you feeling down, less energized and in general just not feeling “quite right.”
If you experience prolonged periods of sadness, anxiety, extreme fatigue or episodes of violent behavior or thoughts of self-harm, you may be experiencing a serious form of depression or other medical issue and should seek the help of a licensed medical professional. But if your general health is good and you find yourself in a bit of a “rut,” in the upcoming months, especially when the hustle and bustle of the holidays starts dying down, we’ve got some tips for you to keep the pep in your step.
What Causes Those Winter Blues?
Darker mornings, earlier nights and cold grey weather could be factors in why some feel less energetic and down more than usual in the winter months. Does that sound familiar?
Suggested factors that cause this change in mood:
Vitamin D Deficiency
Sunlight helps produce vitamin D in the body. With less sunlight, your serotonin levels can be affected which can trigger a change in your mood.
Biological Clock Changes
While it’s not known exactly what causes this mild form of depression, theory says it could be lack of sunlight. When there’s less sunlight your biological clock shifts. This internal clock helps regulate things like sleep, mood, and hormones.
Melatonin helps regulate sleep patterns in the body. With the lack of sunlight in the winter months melatonin may go into overproduction in some people. This can lead to that sleepy feeling you might experience more frequently on winter days. You know that feeling, where you want to curl up in a blanket on the couch with a good book and not do much else?
How to Beat the Winter Blues
- Stick to a sleep routine. Set that alarm clock and stick to your normal sleep and wake up times. As cozy as your bed is on those chilly mornings, it’s best to keep your sleep patterns as consistent as possible.
- Proper nutrition is key. As much as we love the smell of fresh baked pies and cookies, all that sugar does not actually help. We’re not saying to decline all holiday treats, just keep them in moderation. Opt for nutritious foods high in vitamin D like fatty fish, yogurts and unsalted nuts.
- Get up and move your body. Physical activity boosts mood, reduces stress and can ease symptoms of depression. Try to incorporate a heart healthy cardio as well as resistance training for all around well-being. If you’ve been wanting to try yoga, now is the perfect time, and with all the new easy access programs, you can join a class right from your living room.
- Don’t turn down every social invitation. As much as you might want to stay at home with Netflix and a bag of chips, make sure you continue to socialize. Laughing and talking with friends is a sure way to keep your mood in a happy place.
- Get some sunlight. Even if you just step outside during lunch, try to get a few minutes being outside on the sunny days. It will help to get a bit of sunshine each day.
- Music. Put some headphones on and listen to upbeat or soothing music. Music can change our perception of the world. It has also been shown to trigger physiological changes that regulate blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory functions.
The winter blues can take a toll, but if you can recognize your patterns and stay ahead of the lows, you can stay in a much better mindset through those tough months until spring has sprung. And please, always seek professional help if you feel your behavior is just too much for you to handle on your own.
- Tags: health