Beat Back the Winter Blues – Nurturing Your Mental Health through the Cold

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18 Feb Beat Back the Winter Blues – Nurturing Your Mental Health through the Cold

The driveway is buried under a mountain of snow, and you burrow even further into your blankets, drained even at the thought of having to venture outside. It’s weird, because you don’t exactly consider yourself the melancholy type, but can’t help feel down or irritable every time the winters roll around.

Don’t be worried though; what you’re feeling is nothing more than a classic case of the winter blues, or what’s technically known as the Seasonal Affective Disorder.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a specific type of depression which affects people’s mental health in winters, or as seasons change. With a recurrent pattern, SAD comes and goes, usually in the late fall or beginning of winter, and going away when it’s springtime.

While most people get affected due to change in seasons, those suffering from SAD tend to feel things just a tad bit more than others. Symptoms, such as low energy levels, increased moodiness, greater stress, lack of concentration, social withdrawal, hypersomnia, and weight gain, collectively make work, life, and everyday mundane tasks a struggle to get through.

Basically, we struggle with SAD because our natural body clock is mediated through circadian rhythms which help regulate our moods and everyday functions. These rhythms are disturbed by the light changes that occur in the winters, i.e. late sunrises and early sunsets. This affects our overall mental health and capacity to function as we normally would.

However, despair not; there are more than a few ways of improving mental health and beating those winter blues back to where they came from.

How to Nurture Your Mental Health in Winters

Eating Better

One of the biggest symptoms of SAD is overeating, a deep craving for carbohydrates and winter weight gain. Instead of gorging yourself on chocolates and candy that only provide a fleeting sense of euphoria, change your diet to include foods that influence your mood, such as assorted berries, salmon, leafy greens and sunflower seeds.

Stepping into the Light

The body generally needs a significant amount of vitamin D to function normally – through the cold, even more so. Improve your mental health in winters by actively seeking out and stepping into the light every chance you get. Try and soak up as much natural sunlight as you can on the days the sun shines bright. Switch to artificial lighting on the days it chooses to hide behind the clouds. We’re talking about bright lamps, lights, and light boxes.

Exercising

It’s cold, so you eat more to generate more body heat. You eat more and you gain weight – it’s a vicious cycle. Beat the winter blues and improve your mental health at the same time by incorporating some form of exercise into your daily routine. Not only does exercise keep your body in shape, it also releases endorphins – the feel-good hormones – that help your mind stay in shape too.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Seasonal Affective Disorder is an extension of major depression, a medical disorder which requires proper care and treatment from a licensed professional. If you feel like you’re making all the effort in the world to improve your mental health in winters and are not making enough progress, maybe it’s time to seek professional guidance. There are other forms of treatment – psychotherapy being one of them – that work splendidly for the struggles brought on by seasonal depression.

For more information about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how to start feeling better today, contact Sirona Therapies at 914-241-0727 or by email at info@sironatherapies.com.

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