Conquer the Winter Blues

Conquer the Winter Blues

6 June 2019

If your happy place involves sunshine, tank tops, big sunglasses, ice-cold drinks, and warm evenings sipping sundowners on the porch (sigh!)… winter is probably not your friend!

Truth is, winter’s shorter days and lack of the usual abundance of sunlight disrupts our circadian rhythms or internal body clocks. More than half of the population living in places where there are four seasons report having the “winter blues”: mild depression, lack of motivation, and low energy. However, in 2 – 3% these difficulties are severe and recur as annual depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or very aptly referred to as “SAD.”

So yes, if July is sending shivers up your spine and you feel the urge to stay under the covers until the first buds appear, it may be more than a coincidence. Although there are no specific factors that have been isolated as the definitive cause of SAD yet, experts believe that the production of higher melatonin levels due to shorter daylight hours may lead to lethargy and symptoms of depression.

So, what to do when your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer? We have a few scientifically proven tricks to pull you through:

  • Think like a Norwegian. Denmark has a lot of cold, dark hours in winter, at times up to 17 hours a day, but top the polls as the happiest people on earth. Why? They purposefully and mindfully engage in creating a cosy and grateful attitude in winter. Mindset research is increasingly finding that it doesn’t take much to shift one’s thinking. So, think hot beverages, fuzzy socks and fluffy pyjamas.
  • Eat smart. The symptoms of SAD can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbs. However, foods such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice and bananas will boost your feel-good serotonin levels without the subsequent sugar crash. Cook up some comfort – healthy soups, roasted veggies and stewed winter fruits. Yum!
  • Keep warm. Research shows that staying warm can beat the winter blues by half. Bundle up and aim to keep your home between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Buddy up. According to Mark Pottier, a psychologist in Yarmouth N.S., isolating yourself only worsens depressive symptoms. Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for.
  • Exercise. We tend to exercise 5% less in winter. The effects of a good workout last for hours after you’ve hit the showers!
  • Turn on the tunes. Studies have proven that listening to upbeat music can improve your mood. Set your favourite song as your alarm clock tune.
  • Plan a vacation. Research shows that the simple act of planning a vacation causes a significant increase in overall happiness.
  • Volunteer your time to help others.
  • Make your environment brighter. Open curtains, trim back trees and sit closer to the windows to provide an extra dose of sunshine and vitamin D.
  • Laugh. Do whatever it takes to tickle your funny bone. There’s a reason why giggling babies and dancing goats are so popular!
  • Make your bed. You’ll be less likely to crawl back before bedtime.
  • Find your bliss. Do more of what you love.
  • Treat yourself. Soak in a warm bath with salts, scrubs and essential oils. “Taking a tub” is one of life’s most delightful luxuries.

Hey, it’s winter, we might as well roll with it, right? Hang in there!


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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