When was the last time you heard someone say, “I can’t wait until winter gets here!”? Or perhaps the common variation on that: “I can’t wait until it snows!”
If hearing those statements makes you feel like the person saying them to you is a little crazy, you aren’t alone; every year, many people are affected by the winter blues, and if you’re one them, it makes sense you wouldn’t feel excited about the prospect of shorter, darker days and cold temperatures. But did you know that the winter blues are actually a real thing? Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it affects more than half a million people between September and April every year, peaking in December, January and February. The cause of this is related to the lack of sunlight during those months, which in turn affects the body’s circadian rhythm. When the circadian rhythm is out of turn, it changes the way the body produces sleep hormones, and has been linked to increased sadness and depression. With us almost halfway through December, many are feeling the effects of the winter blues.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to combat the gloomy affects of Seasonal Affective Disorder:
1. Start by improving your quality of sleep.
Go to bed in a routine manner every night, and make sure to avoid “screen time” type activities (such as cell phone, computer / internet browsing and watching TV) — the artificial light disrupts your body’s clock and ability to achieve quality sleep during the night.
2. While you can’t control the chilling temperatures outside, you can do things to warm your heart.
Volunteering is a great way to combat sadness because it gets you around people and not so isolated, all while giving back to people who are probably quite literally experiencing the cold.
3. Get your blood pumping.
Exercise is also a great way to improve your mood since it releases hormones in the body that help you to feel good. And it doesn’t have to be the kind of exercise you dread, either! Dancing classes, cycling, and yoga are all forms of exercise that can you get around other people, trying new things, de-stressing your body and mind during this gloomy time of year.
Lighting is scientifically proven to make a huge difference in your mood. During this time of year, being mindful of the power of light can be a huge tool to help yourself through the darker, colder days of winter. There are several ways you can use light to your advantage. Firstly, think about that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you turn the corner as you’re driving to see a house decked out in strings of pretty holiday lights. Hold that feeling in your mind. You can re-create that same cozy effect in your own home. Even one string of lights, placed either on the outside of your home to greet you as you pull in, or on the inside of your home, can lend a lot of warmth to your environment.
Second, fitting the light sources in your home with brighter light bulbs can enhance color and make your home feel brighter and more open, which will contribute to a healthier feeling environment for you.
Lastly, if you want to enhance the above tips even further — for example, if you are really really struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, there is something called light therapy that can help combat SAD’s negative effects. You can consider this light therapy lamp a gift to yourself that will help you through this holiday season and many more.
In a few short weeks, Christmas will be here, along with the New Year! Get involved with what you can, whether that be Christmas parties, New Year get togethers, or just spending quality time with your friends and family.
Of course we can’t forget about the holiday season. In few weeks Christmas will be here along with the New Year! Get involved with what you can, whether it is Christmas parties, New Year parties or just getting around some friends and family. I want to take a moment and wish everyone a healthy and blessed Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
May the year 2016 bring good fortune!