How to Survive the Winter Blues?| December 30, 2021
Winter Blues – What Is It?
The winter blues is a mental condition characterized by sadness and exhaustion during the coldest and darkest months of the year. Winter blues are frequent, with many of us feeling a mood shift in winter. You can feel more sluggish and lower in general.
Some mornings you could find it difficult to get out of bed, you might have difficulties sleeping, and you might be unmotivated to do daily duties or go outside. Even though you may be sadder than normal, the winter blues usually do not interfere with your ability to enjoy life and are only temporary and have no bearing on your capacity to perform during the day.
Many people become melancholy or suffer from "the winter blues" throughout the winter. It's natural for people to be sad at times, and there's nothing wrong with it. Experiencing emotions is an important element of what makes us human, and it's not something we want to lose.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the medical term for this type of winter depression. It happens more frequently in the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight and fewer daylight hours. SAD affects about 5% of adults in the United States each year. Loss of energy, weight gain, sleep problems, lethargy, melancholy, and mood swings are all symptoms of SAD. It can be overpowering, causing regular chores to be disturbed. It can affect anyone of any age.
Signs and Symptoms of the Winter Blues
- Feelings of melancholy during the winter.
- Lacking motivation to perform some duties, yet capable of handling major responsibilities such as going to work and caring for the house.
- Having difficulty sleeping.
- Spending one or two days in bed.
Although the winter blues are not a mental illness and do not interfere with our regular activities, they might make us feel "down and out."
What Causes the Winter Blues?
Even though millions of people claim to have experienced winter blues, sometimes it feels as if the winter blues is a myth. However, there is scientific evidence to back up the assumption that the season impacts our moods.
Most specialists feel the issue is related to how the body reacts to daylight. One explanation is that seasonal changes alter your circadian rhythm, the body's biological clock that governs specific brain wave activity and hormone production, which can be influenced by less sunlight, which governs sleepiness and alertness. Another theory is that decreasing sunshine causes your serotonin and melatonin levels to plummet, regulating your sleep and mood and causing lethargy and depression symptoms.1
While suffering from the winter blues, the lack of daylight is most likely to blame.
Tips for Surviving the Winter Blues
You can take steps to minimize the severity of symptoms associated with SAD or the winter blues, just as you do with many other mood disorders.
While you may not be able to modify the weather or the quantity of daylight in the winter months, you can improve your mood by practicing proper self-care. Following are some tips to help you survive the winter blues.
SAD affects everyone differently, so what helps for one person may not work for another. If the first tip you attempt doesn't work, don't give up. Simply keep trying.
1. Stay Active
The simplest way to survive the winter blues is to stay active, even when it's dark and freezing outside. Even a 15-minute stroll in the middle of the day can help the brain revitalize and regulate circadian rhythms by boosting critical neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
A daily one-hour stroll in the middle of the day can be as effective as light therapy for coping with the winter blues. It will be even more useful if you can exercise early in the day, absorbing natural daylight within two hours of waking up.
Exercise improves mood and mental performance. It's a crucial part of physical and mental wellness, so if you're having trouble controlling your mood, try increasing your exercise. In the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression, exercise can be as effective as antidepressants.
Exercise on daily basis releases endorphins, which have been shown to boost mood and energy levels. If you exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week, you will feel more energized and happier. If you suffer from SAD, exercising outside is even better because it allows you to take in the fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, and connect with nature.2
2. Look for The Sun
Getting outside during the winter months should be a top priority. Because a lack of sun exposure exacerbates winter blues symptoms, getting some sun exposure is essential. Being in the sun helps balance serotonin activity, increase melatonin production, stabilize your circadian rhythm, and boost your vitamin D levels, all of which can help you feel better.
When you're feeling down this winter, get outside as much as possible, especially on sunny days. If you can't get outside, place a chair, workstation, or kitchen table next to a sunny window. Aim to spend at least one to two hours per day in this spot. If you can't do it all in one sitting, divide the time into smaller portions throughout the day.
3. Add These Mood-Boosting Foods to Your Diet
A nutritious diet will improve your mood, offer you more energy, and prevent you from gaining weight this winter. Consume plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to satisfy your carbohydrate cravings. Also, add these mood-boosting foods to your diet:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been lauded for their health benefits, which include the potential to affect your mood. People with higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to develop moderate or mild symptoms of depression. Flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon are among the foods that contain the most omega-3 fatty acids.
Stress worsens depression symptoms and depletes your body's resources. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries may inhibit the adrenal gland from producing cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol travels to your hippocampus, a large part of the brain that stores memories, generates emotional responses, and aids navigation when you're stressed. Keep berries in your backpack to help you cope with stress.
- Limit Sugar Consumption
Sugar may offer you a temporary rush of happiness, but studies show that too much sugar can disrupt the way your brain works and slow it down. Sugar should be avoided at all costs, especially if you're depressed. The drop that follows a sugar high might easily make you feel even worse.3
- Dark Chocolate
Chocolate has long been a tasty and effective way to cope with stress. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve mood and has a high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants. Pick up dark chocolate with high cocoa content when you're feeling low, and you'll feel much better.
Tryptophan is found in bananas. Bananas also aid in fueling your brain by providing carbohydrates from natural sugars and potassium. Magnesium, which is also present in bananas, may help with sleep and anxiety, signs of seasonal sadness.
Also, meals high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish and fish oil, and vitamin D fortified foods like milk, orange juice, breakfast cereal, yogurt, and other dietary sources, can assist in keeping moods in check.
4. Take Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is important for mood regulation, blood sugar control, and immune system health. Vitamin D is regarded as the "sunshine vitamin" because your body produces it by absorbing natural sunlight and utilizing cholesterol.
Vitamin D consumption is recommended to be around 1,000 IU (25 mcg) per day. During the winter months, a significant section of the Unites States population is vitamin D deficient. According to one study, adults with the winter blues who were given 400-800 international units of vitamin D3 per day improved their mood significantly.
A vitamin D deficiency could cause varying moods or weariness. Refer your doctor to see whether you require any supplements to maintain a healthy and balanced system. Having vitamin D supplements on a daily basis may be the most effective strategy to boost your mood during the winter months.4
5. Light Therapy
Winter blues or seasonal depression can be helped with light therapy. Light boxes provide extremely bright light that is at least ten times brighter than typical home and business lighting.
If any lower-level remedies aren't working to overcome winter blues, you should try light therapy. The National Institutes of Mental Health suggests spending 20 to 60 minutes in front of a lightbox first thing in the morning is the best way to survive winter blues.5
6. Use Harmony's Ear Candles
Ear candles are one of the finest suggestions for optimum relaxation, peace of mind, and stress reduction. Harmony's Ear Candles promote relaxation, which, when combined with a healthy lifestyle, can aid in treating winter blues. Warm smoke, aromatherapy, and ambient sound help to relax the body and promote natural healing.
Aromatherapy is a common medicine intervention for persons with depression because it is recognized to help your mental state, mood, and even your health. Harmony' ear candles are manufactured from organic cotton cloth and food-grade wax. That is why they are the best ones to help you feel better in the winter months.
7. Take Control of Your Screen Time
We spend more time indoors during cold months, which tempts us to watch television, stare at a computer screen, or play with our phones. Too much screen time lowers mood, increases weariness, and provides too many distractions, all of which contribute to a rise in the winter blues. Try to spend as little time as possible in front of a screen in the winter months.
8. Establish A Sleep/Wake Routine
Going to bed and awakening up at the same hour every night and morning can assist in regulating your internal clock, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and invigorated rather than tired throughout the day.
The amount of sleep you get has a significant impact on your mood. Oversleeping can cause you to become wearier. Refrain from hitting the snooze button and start your day early.
Our circadian cycle can be interrupted without proper, regular sleep, affecting cortisol rhythms and hormone production. Here are few suggestions to improve your sleep:
- Every day, go to bed and get up at the same hour.
- Take a bath, dim the lights, or sip a cup of herbal tea before bed to encourage relaxation.
- As soon as you wake up, expose yourself to sunlight.
- Sleep in a dark, cold room.
- Use natural sleep aids that might help you get a better night's sleep. The Bodytox Lavender Sleep Patches and lavender essential oil by H.E.A.L's are ideal for anyone suffering from winter blues and having inconsistent sleeping patterns. It encourages both mental and physical relaxation, as well as stress and nerve alleviation.
- In your bedroom, avoid using electronics.
9. Take Up A New Interest
Keeping your mind occupied with a new interest appears to help prevent SAD symptoms. When you're having trouble motivating yourself, do something for yourself. It could be anything from singing to a bridge to crocheting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, and blogging. What matters is that you have something to anticipate and concentrate on. Start making time for yourself to accomplish something you have been meaning to do. It will benefit your mental health and help you reenergize.
10. Stay Connected to Your Loved Ones
The consequences of the winter blues are aggravated by loneliness and isolation. A strong social support network is essential for staying connected and getting out of the house during the long winter months. Devote time to your loved ones and friends, whether it's cooking, skiing, or a night out on the town. It can help improve your mood while also giving you someone to talk to about your feelings.
There's one thing that year 2020 has taught us: human contact and socialization are critical for our mental health. Socializing also aids in the prevention of the winter blues. Try to stay in touch with individuals you care about, and accept any invitations to social gatherings you get, even if you can only go for a short time. Spend more time with people who encourage you to be your best.6
The Bottom Line
Your physical and emotional health can suffer because of the winter blues. While you can't change the season, you can make choices to reduce the negative effects of being depressed.
If the tips stated above to help you survive the winter blues don't seem to be helping, make an appointment with your doctor or mental health professional to see if you're suffering from the winter blues or SAD, or it is something else.
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