Winter Blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder!
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours that interferes with daily functioning of a period of time. It’s a form of depression and comes with a gloomy outlook and makes people feel worthless and irritable.
Winter Blues is a milder version of SAD that usually clears up on its own. But what’s the dividing line? More important who wants to experience either one!
SAD seems to be triggered by reduced sunlight. We know it is more common in northern climates with shorter amounts of daylight. However, at least in the milder Winter Blues version, it can be linked to a combination of factors that contribute to depressed moods. This could include stressful holiday seasons, the end of the holiday season, the absence of loved ones and so one.
Let’s talk prevention
Who wants to risk being in the dumps especially when it can contribute to low energy, a tendency to oversleep and put on weight.
Prevention and cure are related to stimulating positive emotions. Here are a few ways to bring that sunshine into your life.
Don’t Hibernate. Get more light into your life even if you don’t live in Florida. Even on a cloudy day the light outside can be much higher than indoor environments. Bundle up if necessary, and get some time outside. The Swedes have “Light Cafes” and some Austrian villages use giant mirrors to reflect sunshine. Fortunately, most of us just need to take advantage of the natural light available to us.
Exercise. It is good for you for many reasons but what is germane here is that it can raise the level of serotonin in the brain – a non-prescription method of elevating your mood.
Watch What You Eat. SAD leads to a craving of carbohydrates including sugar – no wonder there is a tendency to gain weight. But it is not just what we eat but how much. Many people are aware that they snack more when they are stressed or anxious. That’s bad enough in itself. Now there is growing evidence that depressed mood impacts your taste buds which leads to eating more to get the desired flavors. A simple strategy is to become mindful before you eat – mindful of your mood, mindful of the quantity of food in front of you and mindful when you plan to put the fork down. Combine that with some activity that elevates your mood before you eat. Listen to your favor music, find reasons to smile and laugh. Even reflect on the good things going on in your life.
Socialize. Hug a loved one, play with your pet, spend more time with positive people you like, or take on the mission of cheering up someone else – all good ways to elevate your mood.
Obviously, you can combine any or all of the above. Go for an outdoor walk with friends on your way to dinner.
Life on the sunnyside is not only more pleasurable; it is good for your health.