While the longest day of the year is already behind us, we’re still in the midst of the long, cold, grey days of winter. Many of us find this time of year to be challenging. It’s cold and many of would prefer to curl up in bed or on the couch under the blankets. For some of us, the lack of sunlight leads us to feeling depressed or down. This feeling, often diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) brings on lower energy levels, fatigue, weight gain, restlessness, and other symptoms. Even if a person isn’t officially diagnosed with SAD, it’s common to feel blue during winter months (especially for people who prefer warmer weather).
The good news is that there are many free or inexpensive ways to combat these feelings. Here are three ways we’ve seen work wonders during even the darkest, coldest and longest days of winter.
Whether this is done inside or outside, exercise a great way to help fight winter sadness. If it’s nice enough outside and the cold temperatures are tolerable, go for a brisk walk. In fact, the cold air is often good for the body If not, find some time and a place indoors to do a few calisthenics, either cardio or just stretching. Maybe even some light yoga. No need to get a full, strenuous workout. Just five to 10 minutes a day can increase blood flow, lower heartrate, raise body temperature, and generally help a person feel good.
In addition to getting exercise, spending time in the infrared sauna can greatly help ease feelings of depression. A study conducted in 2016 preliminarily found that, short periods of elevated body temperature (hyperthermia) can be an antidepressant. The infrared sauna is an ideal way to gently raise the body temperature, all while eliminating toxins from the body.
Connect with People in Person
One of the side effects of the winter blues is the tendency to hibernate. Obviously, we don’t mean literal hibernation, but rather a self-imposed isolation that comes with a lack of motivation to do things. Adding to this is our increasing reliance on digital media and social networks to connect with friends and family. While it may be challenging, one of the best ways to combat this is to do the opposite: Connect with people in person. Make an effort to get out of the house, to meet a friend for coffee. Alternatively, consider perhaps volunteering somewhere, like a soup kitchen or a senior center. It’s amazing how much better we can feel when we just take the time to actually talk to people face-to-face.
Change Your Diet
Oftentimes what we eat can affect our mood. Serotonin, a chemical found in the brain that is a transmitter that helps control mood, is made in the gut. Thus, if we’re feeling down, it could be a result of a food sensitivity or a slight dysfunction in our digestive tract. The solution is to eliminate food sensitivities to improve gut function. Find out which foods help with mood by meeting our nutritionist or getting testing for gut imbalances.
If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from the wintertime blues or other form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, we can help. At Shakthi, we help patients take control of their health and well-being. Our integrated, comprehensive, and concierge approach focuses on the whole person. Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today.