Chase Away Those Winter Blues
Dear Winter: I’m breaking up with you. I think it’s time I start seeing other seasons.
— Mermaid Musings
Did you know that there is a condition known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD)? It is defined as a mood disorder that causes feelings of depression at the same time each year. SAD usually occurs during winter when there is less sunlight and bad weather forces us indoors. So…the next time you look out your window and feel melancholy when you see the rain…know that you are not alone. Millions of people are affected each year. The good news is that there are lots of things we can do to mitigate the symptoms of SAD.
1. Learn to Embrace the Cold Weather. It seems counterintuitive but by trying to reset your mind to think of winter weather as enjoyable – you can help your brain to feel happier. Find indoor activities you love…whether it’s reading a book by the fire while drinking hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows – EVERYTHING is better when there are marshmallows) or playing games that challenge your mind like Scrabble or Words with Friends. Embracing winter will help you love winter.
2. Don’t Ignore Your Physical Well-Being. It’s easy to curl up in a ball on the lounge and binge Netflix but don’t forget that vigorous exercise releases endorphins which are your bodies natural defence against stress and pain. By exercising you are helping your body and that, in turn, helps your mind.
3. Worship the Sun. We aren’t supposed to spend prolonged periods of time in the sun but during winter, whenever you get the chance, aim for thirty minutes a day. This will help your body maintain a healthy Vitamin D level. Remember…there is a reason it’s known as the “sunshine vitamin”.
4. Don’t Forget To Socialise. This is so important during a long, cold winter. By locking yourself away from friends and family you are removing your emotional support system. This action can cause a trickle down effect of making you feel isolated and alone. We all need companionship and when the weather outside is frightful…we need love and hugs more than ever.
5. Food is Love. But try not to make your food relationship a toxic one. It is easy to reach for high fat, high sugar snacks in winter but do yourself a favour and refrain. You’ll avoid stacking on unwanted kilos and by choosing healthy, warm and inviting foods you will ensure that you stay healthy as well. Our immunity is under more stress in winter and by eating whole grains, fruits and veggies as well as lean meats – you’ll help your body thrive.
Remember – Winter isn’t the enemy. By acknowledging the challenges to our mental health during the colder months we can make make positive choices and chase those winter blues away.