It was a rough winter for many across the United States— with snowstorms hitting the East Coast, record lows hitting the West Coast, and southern states seeing snow for the first time in years. With temperatures fluctuating so much and things remaining chilly even after the first day of spring in some parts of the country, many people have been suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Also known as the “winter blues,” SAD typically affects people in the early months of the year when temperatures take a nosedive, and joy and motivation are also lower for some. SAD is a state of seasonal depression that occurs when cold weather sets in, we are depleted of sunlight and must deal with the shorter days and longer nights of winter. Technically it’s spring, but if temperatures are below normal where you live, you might still be experiencing the effects of SAD.
Symptoms of SAD include drowsiness, difficulty waking up in the morning, low energy, less concentration and productivity, frustration with self and others, social withdrawal and cravings for carbs and comfort foods, which results in weight gain. Most of all, the cold weather affects our drive and enthusiasm to exercise, which results in even more depression.
Serotonin, the chemical that helps keep happiness levels up, drops in the wintertime, resulting in feelings of sadness and gloom. The good news is there are ways to stay cheerful and warm when the temperatures are cooler. Here are some solutions to overcoming the seasonal blues:
Exercise – You Guessed It!
Exercise is the most powerful player in the fight against seasonal sadness. Exercising releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical, resulting in feelings of happiness and a healthy level of well-being. It’s a free drug, and it’s the best one! Endorphins set in after only 30 minutes of activity. Strength training and cardio will torch feelings of depression like no other! So get to the gym and grab some weights for a no-fail strategy for beating the blues.
Look The Part
This includes everything from the smile on your face to the apparel you choose to dress yourself in. Research shows that if you pretend to be happy and take care of your appearance, you can trick yourself into actually feeling that way. Look the part, and you will start to feel it as well!
This is the “the sunshine vitamin.” Your body produces it naturally when exposed to sunlight. This is a hormone that supports your immune system, cardiovascular and heart health, boosts mood and mental health. Twenty minutes of sunlight a day is plenty for a good dose of vitamin D. Adding a vitamin D supplement can help during sunless days.
Contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is a natural anxiety fighter and mood booster. It is a calming agent, which revives and refreshes the body and mind. Decaffeinated green tea supports sleep and relaxation, and fights depressive symptoms.
You are not alone in the fight against SAD. Try some of these treatment options, and before you know it, your days will be warm and sunny long before summer!
Michele Sotak is a Carbon38 Ambassador