For some winter is a time that brings about depression in various degrees. Some actually develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs in the fall or winter due to a decrease in sunlight and low temperatures. It is estimated that 4 to 6% of the population suffers from SAD, and 10 to 20 % suffers from a milder form of winter sorrow. Symptoms include being lethargic, listless, unmotivated, irritable, listless, restless, edgy and moody. However there are ways to enhance mood and offset some of those low feelings.
- Watch food intake. Carbohydrates might help one feel full and warm briefly, but carbs result in a reduction of energy. Instead, take in energy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts.
- Exercise. Movement stimulates endorphins in the brain and can enhance mood— and as a bonus burn calories from carbohydrates.
- Increase Vitamin D. Taking a supplement or increase Vitamin D through foods such as (this should make some of you smile) seafood including salmon, trout, halibut, herring, catfish, sardines, shrimp. Other foods include soy milk, orange juice, and milk.
- Partake in a fun scheduled activity. It will give you something to look forward to. Include friends and others that you enjoy spending time with. Develop a hobby that requires your attention.
- Moderate sweet and alcohol intake (yeah I know – we said it). Research suggests that people with SAD process sugar differently in
winter than in summer (or with light therapy). Cutting down on simple sugars can help stabilize your serotonin levels.
- Cut down on coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Studies have linked depression with a high intake of caffeine. Try substituting herbal tea, decaf coffee or mineral water.
- Get good sleep. Poor sleep is problematic in itself. A good sleep increases energy.
- Get some fresh air. UV rays, even on cloudy days, stimulate vitamin D creation which fuels your brain.
- If you truly can’t shake the winter blues visit your doctor. A doctor may be able to recommend other ways to improve health and mood or prescribe enhanced vitamin boosters or drugs that may help.