Winter is the time of year when weather conditions and limited daylight hours may lead us to spending more time cooped up in our homes, and more time indoors away from sunlight exposure can cause many people to feel the blues. Although some people look forward to the cooler temperatures, the leaves falling off the trees and rainy days by the fire, many begin to notice they are feeling down, uninterested in activities, a lack of motivation and less desire to take care of themselves.
Though the body burns more calories in the winter because it works hard to keep warm, many people will eat up to an additional 200 calories a day during these months, causing weight gain and further contributing to bad feelings. The cooler weather also adds stress to the body, throwing our immune systems off and leading to irritating coughs, runny noses and fevers.
With all this stacked against winter, it’s no wonder so many people begin to feel depressed and less interested in socializing during these months. Some people experience such a low during winter months that they are diagnosed as having Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
You can experience SAD in the spring and summer months but it is much more common in the winter. Some people find they begin to feel depression kick in around fall and peak during the winter months. They also notice their moods change at the beginning of spring. Some medical professionals believe that this has to do with hormone changes as the seasons change. It tends to be more common with females than males and usually the first signs of it will start in the teenage years.
Possible signs of SAD are:
Whether you are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or you just get a little lazy and procrastinate with your responsibilities during the cold and rainy months, there are things you can do to modify your mood and get you back on track. As spring approaches, it’s time to come out of hibernation and get moving again.
It’s been proven that getting your endorphins going will likely perk you up and even lead to feelings of euphoria. When you start moving your body with exercise, sex or even laughter, it will begin to release the hormone known to boost mood, trigger happy feelings and prevent depression. This feeling can last up to 12 hours for some people.
Some things you can do to alter your mood:
As the days get longer and the weather starts to show signs of promise, more and more people will begin the ‘spring cleaning’ of their lives. It’s a great time to clean out the closets, throw away some of the clutter that has been suffocating you and maybe even take up a hobby. Spring opens up so many possibilities as we feel refreshed and ready to start something new. Try waking up a little earlier and take a walk before work or join an outdoor fitness program. Get the whole family involved. Take the kids to the park or for a family hike. You may not be the only one in your home who has slacked off during the winter months. Teenagers especially may need to be encouraged to get out more, spend time with friends, get involved in a sport and refocus on their grades and other school activities. No matter what time of the year it is, you will have a better chance of avoiding the seasonal ups and downs as long as you just keep your body moving.
Elaine is the former host of “The Shape Fitness Show” on 97.1FM and 980AM in Los Angeles. Check out her site at GodaiFit.com