Once the Christmas and holiday season ends we’re left with the dreary weather and freezing temperatures without the glitz and glam of the holidays. How are we supposed to handle the winter blues without the plus sides of holiday cheer?
Thanks to this annual problem, many people say they have something called seasonal depression. According to this article from WebMD, most people who live far enough from the equator to experience warm summers and cold winters feel the effects of seasonal depression. The author says, "For most people, it manifests as winter doldrums, the 'I-can't-wait-for-winter-to-end' feeling that produces mild but manageable sluggishness and food cravings.” In other words, we all feel sort of downtrodden during the winter time. It’s almost like we want to hibernate and wait for spring like some animals do.
In addition, there is a more severe form of seasonal depression called seasonal affective disorder, SAD for short, which, according to WebMD, is "diagnosed after at least two consecutive years of more intense symptoms.”
According to the same article, 11 million Americans experience SAD.
But why do so many of us feel this seasonal depression, or in more extreme cases, seasonal affective disorder? Turns out there’s a scientific answer. We’re not just mad about being cold all the time.
Apparently, "sensitivity to the lack of sunlight that results from winter's 'shorter' days disrupts our circadian rhythm, or internal body clock.” That’s why we feel more tired than usual during the long winter months. The nature of winter actually affects us biologically, messing with the chemicals in our bodies and making us feel tired.
However, there are some easy ways we can combat seasonal depression and help ourselves relax and get our internal body clocks back on track. In this article from everydayhealth.com, there are some great tips.
Here are some of my favorites. For one, you can add essential oils to your bath to help you relax. Essential oils, like lavender, affect the part of your brain that controls your mood and your internal body clock.
Also, the dead of winter is when it’s most important to get some exercise. We can, if we want to, combat the weight gain that may come as a result of the food cravings attached to seasonal depression. The article recommends working out near a window in the daytime in order to best combat seasonal depression through exercise. Even if your goal isn't to lose weight, exercise can still boost your mood.
Another tip is to make a schedule and stick to it. Try your best to create a consistent schedule in which you eat, go to sleep, get up in the morning, and exercise at somewhat consistent times. Not only will this tip help with the messed up internal body clock, but it will also fight against that urge to constantly satisfy food cravings.
My last favorite suggestion is to keep a journal. According to this article, writing in a journal can improve your mood and help flush negative thoughts out of your mind. It’s a simple and productive way to boost your mood. And it’s those easy but effective little things we need to fit into our already-busy schedules and keep us away from those winter woes.