Tips for Combatting Winter Blues

By: Natalie House

Coldness, barren land, and overcast days.
         

 This time of the year can be really tough on all of us – students and staff alike. Seasonal affective disorder, or “SAD” affects a lot of northerners, but you don’t have to be diagnosed to experience the sluggishness, gloominess, and exhaustion brought on by a lack of daylight. It turns out it’s not so much the cold temperatures (which definitely aren’t fun) as it is the lack of natural light that affects mood and productivity.

According to a Huffington Post article, the most common symptoms of SAD include:

  • Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a normal routine

  • A need for more sleep, while still suffering from low energy during the day and experiencing disturbed nights

  • Anxiety, inability to cope

  • Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people

  • Sadness and light depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason

  • Increased appetite, with a particular craving for carbohydrates and foods containing sugar

With short days and few sunny days – what gives? Here’s some science behind this phenomenon.

The lack of sunlight causes the body to produce more melatonin, a chemical that helps regulate sleep when it’s at normal levels. At increased levels, melatonin can contribute to symptoms of mild depression. Thanks to light therapy, some people can decrease their levels of melatonin and improve their mood.

If light therapy just doesn’t seem to work for you, here are some more tips.

  • Be extra aware about the amount of time you spend with others. During the winter months, it is especially important to spend time around others. Doing so will help to elevate your mood, which will also release endorphins, making you happier and healthier.

  • Set short-term goals and remind yourself that any of the symptoms above will pass.

  • Exercise! Along with this, try to exercise your mind as well — mindless activities like knitting and painting can help calm you down and avoid negative self-talk.

  • Understand that although there are things you can do to help combat SAD, depression is not SAD and may require professional care.

 

 

 

It’s important that light shines into your eyes in order to absorb vitamin D – that being said this nifty light visor may be just the thing you need:

 

 

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