Winter – for some of us it’s a time of fun, laughter and happiness. We go skiing, sledding and ice-skating with our families. We admire the beauty of the white world outside. We buy warm and fluffy hats, cute woolen sweaters and fancy boots to keep the cold away. What a joyful time! Is it, really? Well, unfortunately, not for all of us.
For some people, winter is the time of sadness, fatigue, weight gain, oversleeping, irritability, lower libido, low energy level and low productivity. Why does it happen? Why do some people feel unhappy during winter?
Let’s figure it out!
Why we feel depressed in winter
Winter blues, seasonal depression and seasonal affective disorder are conditions that affect almost 30% of people. We suffer from them because of the lack of sunlight.
The human body needs from 30 minutes to 2 hours of sunlight daily. In winter, when days are short and cloudy, we either get no sunlight or little. That makes us feel tired, moody and we want to sleep more, and no wonder! Circadian rhythms that control the sleep and wake cycle in our bodies differ in every season. In summer, we go to bed early and wake up early. In winter, on the other hand, we go to bed late and wake up late. Moreover, our bodies produce melatonin to help us sleep. It’s level rises as soon as it gets dark outside and decreases when we are exposed to sunlight. How can we wake up early, feel energized and happy when it’s so dark all the time?
Well, seasonal depression is an unpleasant condition that affects our lives. Fortunately, it can be treated. Don’t worry, you don’t need to seek doctor’s help!
How to beat seasonal depression
There are a few ways to treat winter sadness. All of the methods are non-invasive, natural and conventional, so you need not worry that you’ll suffer any negative consequences.
#1 The Sunshine Vitamin.
Vitamin D, which is also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the human body when we’re exposed to sunlight.
Why is vitamin D important? Well, vitamin D has many roles in our bodies:
- It keeps our bones and teeth strong and healthy,
- It watches over the health of our immune and nervous systems as well as the brain,
- It aids diabetes and regulates insulin levels,
- It supports lung function and health of the cardiovascular system,
- It protects against cancer development.
Deficiency in vitamin D causes not only seasonal depression, but also hair loss, painful bones or obesity. Thus, it’s vital to keep its level high.
Since vitamin D is absorbed by the body directly from sunshine, we are likely to be deficient in it during winter. That means we need to get it from different sources than the sun. Try eating more foods containing vitamin D, such as fish, milk or eggs. Also, consider taking vitamin D supplements and go for a walk every time the sun appears in the sky. Enjoy those moments and be healthy!
#2 The Daylight Bulbs.
Since waiting for the sun to appear in winter is like waiting for a bus to arrive during a long traffic jam, we often need to find the source of sunlight elsewhere than on the sky. One of the best ideas is to simulate sunlight at home or at work with the help of the full spectrum light bulbs.
The light produced by full spectrum light bulbs isn’t the same as the natural light coming from the sun, but it’s the closest thing you can have to real sunlight. These light bulbs simulate natural sunlight, reduce fatigue and eye strain and make your environment more productive. Research confirms that good lighting helps in treatment not only of seasonal depression, but also work depression, so try it today! Change your bulbs to full spectrum light bulbs and become more cheerful and productive this winter!
Studies indicate that people suffering from major depressive disorder have reduced smell sensitivity, but those with seasonal affective disorders do not. Thus, they are affected by smell, which suggests that they can be responsive to aromatherapy.
Aromatherapists claim that essential oils can alleviate the symptoms of seasonal depression, for they positively affect mood. When we inhale a distinctive pleasant smell, the smell receptor in our nose transmits the positive sensation to our brain and we start feeling happy.
Researchers say that “Most studies, as well as clinically applied experience, have indicated that various essential oils, such as lavender, lemon and bergamot can help to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. Most notably, inhalation of essential oils can communicate signals to the olfactory system and stimulate the brain to exert neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin and dopamine) thereby further regulating mood.”
Thus, if you feel the winter blues, try aromatherapy! If you can’t afford for an aromatherapy treatment, don’t feel discouraged! You can buy essential oils and do everything at home. Consider taking an aromatic bath, doing a self-massage or applying lotion on your skin. There are many possibilities!
Research confirms that doing sports can alleviate and reduce the symptoms of depression. It also helps to stay in shape. Thus, if you don’t exercise much this winter, suffer from winter depression and noticed you gained a few pounds, it’s about time to start moving more than to the fridge and back.
“But I hate sports!”
Right, many of us don’t like exercising. Our lives become more and more sedentary and we forget how important it is to go out often and do sports regularly. Also, what’s the point in doing something we hate? After all, it will not make us feel better.
However, what if you took advantage of the season? What if exercise was fun and didn’t look like exercise at all? What if it was the way to connect with your loved ones and spend time in a nice atmosphere? Too good to be true? Well, it’s possible!
Consider going sledding with your kids, ice-skating with your partner or take a vacation and go skiing for a few days. It can be fun and it will improve your mood. Perhaps you’ll start liking winter, after all?
#5 Writing Therapy.
It might be surprising, but writing a journal is a known medicine for depression. It can improve your mood as well as alleviate the symptoms of depression. How does it help?
Well, journaling will help you get to know yourself better. It will make you more aware. When you express yourself and write the negative thoughts down, you become calmer and less worried. Also, you can shift your viewpoint. When you think the negative thoughts, it’s difficult to stop. However, when you write them down, you have a chance to try positive self-talk, for journaling gives you a chance to self-reflect as well as track your symptoms so as not to fall into depression again.
Thus, don’t underestimate this tool. Journaling works and it’s easy. All you need is a notebook, a pen and half an hour every day to write down your thoughts. That’s all. Will you give it a try?
Wrapping it up
Seasonal depression is a condition that happens to many, so you’re not alone. Also, it can be treated, its symptoms can be alleviated and it will disappear. Use the above tips and feel happy and alive again!
If you found this article helpful, share it! If you suffer or suffered from winter depression and know of other methods that can help to alleviate its symptoms, share them with us in the comments below!
And, don’t worry!
Winter has come, it’s true. But, don’t forget! Now, summer is approaching!