The holidays may bring good cheer and food, but the weather outside can sometimes create a different feeling. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has gotten far more attention in recent years than before, and for good reason. That funk you just can’t seem to get out of should not be discredited. With daylight savings comes shorter days, less sunlight, and colder temperatures.
Seasonal mood shifts are real, and they are worth taking a closer look at for your own well-being. Some experts believe that reduced sunlight during fall and winter leads to reduced production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect in the brain. Lower levels of serotonin can result in feelings of depression and fatigue.
If you find yourself feeling less motivated, socially isolated, moody, and more tired than usual, you may be feeling the effects of SAD. Fortunately, there are positive and impactful ways to lift your spirits during these symptoms. The Mayo Clinic recommends 3 remedies to get a hold on seasonal mood changes.
- Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
- Get outside. Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
- Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase seasonal affective disorder symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.
Additionally, Vitamin D may be useful to combat SAD. Studies of low blood levels of Vitamin D have been linked to seasonal depression. It can be found in pill form, or foods such as eggs and fish. A diet rich in omega-3’s and energy boosting nutrients is also essential. Skip carbohydrates such as chips and ice cream, which can cause the body to crash and become even more lethargic, and stock your refrigerator with dark-green, leafy vegetables like spinach, which is full of folic acid, and whole grain products that provide B vitamins, which may help your mental health.
Lastly, turning on some music may just be the cure for your winter blues. I’ve found that laying my troubles down to the soothing sound of Stevie Wonder or Minnie Ripperton, and yes, even getting low to something “crunk” does just the trick to get me motivated to face the cold.