Have you noticed that during winter months you may feel more sluggish, or generally feeling down? With fewer daylight hours, loss of colorful leaves and cloudier, colder days comes the winter blues, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD, according to Mayo Clinic, is “a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.” Some common symptoms of SAD include unusual tiredness, oversleeping, changes in appetite (especially cravings for sugary or carb-laden foods), weight gain and an overall loss of interest in day-to-day life.
This disorder affects roughly 10 million Americans and is four times more common in women than in men. Though the winter months can be dreary, the good news is there are things you can do to help prevent the winter blues and boost your mood.
Get as much sun as you can
One of the main causes of SAD is from lack of sunlight, which helps regulate your biological clock, or circadian rhythm. To combat this, open the shades and pull open the curtains in your house to allow the sun to shine through. Try to choose places with natural sunlight in your home or office, and if you can’t make it to a window, take frequent breaks to walk outside if the weather permits. And with any sun exposure, make sure you are wearing sunscreen that meets UVA and UVB requirements.
Exercising helps release serotonins, endorphins and feel-good chemicals for your brain. The best type of activity for boosting your mood is rhythmic activity, like walking, dancing or biking — anything that gets both your arms and legs moving. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Have a good support system
Your friends and family are here to support you whenever you need them. Communicate often and make plans to get out of the house, like arranging a girls night out so no one has to worry about cooking or planning a date night with your significant other.
One symptom of SAD includes craving carb-heavy foods. You should avoid simple carbs and sugar, like white bread and candy, as these types of foods don’t give you the long-term energy and nutrients your body requires. Instead, opt for complex carbs like whole wheat, bananas and oatmeal, and choose a diet full of good-for-you nutrients, like foods rich in Omega 3s, to help boost your mood. Omega 3 fatty acids can help fight depression and anxiety, fight inflammation and even improve sleep.
Understand what affects you
It’s important to pay attention to your triggers, acknowledge them, and then take steps to reduce the stress they cause. Some examples of stress-reducing activities include practicing daily relaxation routines like meditation or yoga, or participating in a hobby you enjoy like reading or coloring.
As part of your relaxation routine, we recommend taking a bath with all-natural essential oils that benefit both the body and the mind. Our Dresdner Essenz Soothe and Unwind Bath Salts and Roll-on Body & Massage Oil are made with lavender, which adapts to your inner state, invigorates you when you’re tired, lifts your spirits when you’re down and calms you when you’re nervous. For kids who may be experiencing the winter blues, our Dresdner Essenz Dirty Birdie Lavender Bubble Bath is a perfect addition to their bedtime routine, helping them relax and sleep well. You can purchase these recommended products and more at littlemetime.com.