Although winter often includes holiday excitement, it is not a wonderful time for everyone. Winter blues are real, and you are not alone if you feel depressed during winter months. In fact, it is quite normal for moods and energy levels to take a severe dip in winter.
Daylight is important for setting our biological clock; it signals our body when to sleep or wake up. This means you are likely to feel groggy throughout the day during winter because your body is not exposed to adequate sunlight.
According to Dr. Avery (a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine), the short photoperiod during winter can create a hibernation response for many people. Hibernation response means you feel like staying indoors, crave comfort food, and can’t muster up enough energy or motivation to exercise.
Other factors that contribute to feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety during dark days and cold nights in winter are holiday stress, seasonal sickness, and work stress.
Here are some effective and healthy techniques to deal with winter blues:
Sleeping too much or too less can worsen your mood during winter. The right amount of sleep is crucial for your body and mind to function normally.
Since it gets dark early during winter, some people may feel more sleepy than usual. However, it’s vital to maintain a regular sleep schedule, regardless of the change.
If you are having difficulty sleeping, try limiting your screen time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends switching off electronic screens at least one hour before you want to sleep. You can also maintain sleep diaries to track how much sleep you get and what factors affect it.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind during winter, but it can play a vital role in keeping the winter blues away.
Physical activity makes your body release endorphins, the feel-good chemical that gives you a natural high. Even a 30-minute walk can keep your energy levels in check if you don't like hitting the gym. You can also enjoy exercising outdoors under the winter sun while breathing fresh air.
Good meals are equal to good moods. Cheating on your diet once in a while is okay, but make sure you also get enough fruits, vegetables, and protein. If you find it difficult to manage your eating habits, ask for help from a nutritionist.
An article from MedicalNewsToday says that adopting a healthy diet for 12 weeks after nutritional counseling improved the symptoms of moderate-to-severe depression for some people.
Try including mood-boosting foods, like fish and seafood, that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They are known to boost serotonin (another feel-good brain chemical) and help with depressive symptoms.
Isolation can make things worse when you are not feeling okay. Try staying connected with people you care about, even if socializing seems hard. If you don’t feel like hanging out, just try talking to a friend on the phone or even through text.
If you’re dealing with winter blues, use the remedies mentioned above to feel better!
Lonely person: Andrew Neel / Unsplash
Salmon meal: cattalin / Pixabay