The sun is long gone and now it’s just cold, wet & gloomy. To throw in a bonus, Corona has also decided to make an appearance this year so it’s no surprise that some of us are feeling ‘under the weather’, as they say. However, the Winter Blues are a real thing.
OK, if we want to get fancy, we suppose the proper term for it would be: SAD – which is fitting and also stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about 0.5-3 percent of the general population (most commonly between the ages of 20 to 30), with a much higher tendency in women. Considered a ‘type’ of depression, SAD is linked to seasonal changes- most typically From Autumn until the end of Winter or from the months November until February. Though 10 percent of SAD sufferers experience the opposite and therefore notice symptoms during Spring and Summer, this is considered quite rare.
Medically speaking, you may be considered to have SAD if you’ve noticed the following symptoms around the same seasons, for two consecutive years in a row.
When winter rolls around, there tends to be a shortage of sunlight, which can mess with our sleep & wake cycles or ‘internal clocks’. This in turn, can also create a biochemical imbalance in the body, which underproduces serotonin (the happy hormone) in your body and overproduces melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel tired).
If you feel like these symptoms are hitting a chord, it’s best to check with your doctor just in case, as SAD can be treated in a variety of ways: with psychological therapy, light therapy and even medication. Left untreated, it may lead to social withdrawal, problems at school or work, substance abuse etc. Not suffering from SAD per say, but the seasonal changes have got you down? We have some general tips for you in the next section!
With depression, individuals often have issues sleeping at all. Additionally, with SAD, one often experiences an increase in appetite, rather than a lack. These symptoms are limited to a certain period in time.
There are a number of things you can do to counteract those feelings of despair that like to linger around just as much as the unrelenting weather. Here are a few suggestions:
Structure your day
Contrary to the Summer, you suddenly have less than 12 hours of daylight to work with. Structure your day so that you are up with the sun and can take advantage of as much daylight as possible.
Go for a walk
Similarly to the previous point, don’t just make sure you are maximizing on your daylight intake by structuring your day for it, make sure to spend some physical time outside to do so. A half an hour walk should do the trick! Some fresh air also never hurt anybody.
Eat tryptophan-rich foods
Tryptophan, an essential amino acid which is linked to the creation of serotonin in the body can be found in foods such as cheese, eggs, fish, milk, soy etc. Potential health benefits of eating tryptophan-rich foods include:
Resist the urge to sleep in on weekends
This is where we’ve lost you, huh? Why get excited for the weekend if you can’t sleep in, right? However, if you’ve been putting in the time and effort to get up early and regularly during the week, sleeping in until 1pm will most certainly mess up your sleep schedule. Getting up for the coming Monday morning will be a whole new form of torture, believe us!
Get a Sunrise Alarm Clock
A Sunrise Alarm Clock is essentially a digital clock with an additional light function, which can be used to gently wake you up by simulating the sunrise. Your room will gradually get brighter and brighter until your alarm goes off. I can speak from personal experience, that the stuff is life changing! The original clock by Philips can be found here: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B08FHXWZPR/ref=emc_b_5_t
If that’s a little pricey, there are also plenty of cheaper alternatives available on Amazon.
You may not always feel motivated to do so but have you ever heard anyone say: ‘Booooy, I regret that workout’? An exercise-high is a great way to boost your spirits. Before you know it, spring will be just around the corner again so hang tight!
Cuddles are the cure
If all else fails, grab someone you love (taking common-sense relating to corona, into account) and give em’ a good cuddle. At best, for at least six seconds, so that the hormones oxytocin (which has a calming effect) and seratonin can be released from the brain at maximum level!
Together, we will conquer those Winter Blues. For those of us yearning for the sun, spring will be just around the corner!