It is not a secret to anyone: November is depressing. The colder weather starts rolling in, it rains, the leaves have pretty much all fallen off the trees, only to leave us with a sad reminder that, not only is summer very far away, but snow will come soon! The daylight savings time is also not helping. Although it is brighter in the mornings, it gets darker earlier and it is pretty much pitch black at almost 5pm!
Nerd fact: the earth takes 365 days to make a full orbit around the sun and it also spins in an inclined axis. This means that for the winter months in the northern hemisphere we have less sunlight hours because our part of the earth is less exposed to the sun. Ok, enough with deep science here. Let’s move on to why this affects us as humans. The sunlight helps maintain the fragile balance between serotonin and melatonin hormones. Their levels can be affected in certain individuals and trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also called the “winter blues”. People will feel the symptoms at different levels – a change in eating habits, being more sleepy or having insomnia, and being irritable are all symptoms that can occur.
Here are five tips that can help you avoid these winter blues:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. What does this mean? It means that you exercise regularly (you knew I would say that, eh?). You also have a “bedtime” routine that helps you fall asleep faster and better.
- Eat regularly. Don’t skip breakfast EVER, it tells your body: “time to wake up now and get going”! In the winter, we also feel like eating more carbohydrates. Thousands of years of evolution tells us to gather energy (yup, fat) in order to survive the winter. So, indulge a bit and try not to feel too guilty about it!
- Stay active outdoors as long as you can. From raking the leaves to running up and down the street: don’t kick your outdoors activities to the curb quite yet.
- Pick a winter hobby. Many people who don’t enjoy winter feel like they are trapped inside their home. Aside from Netflix and hot cocoa, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing can help make you enjoy the snow and winter more. Work on associating a good snowfall with epic trails in the woods, rather than how much you miss summer and the pool.
- ACCEPTANCE. Winter is not for everyone and that’s okay! Knowing why you feel a bit down helps you work towards improving your overall well-being. If all else fails, you can purchase special bright lights that simulate natural sunlight to help beat the winter blues.
If all those tips don’t cut it, you can always book vacation to a sunny destination!
P.S If your mental state extends beyond feeling a little bit blue during the winter, if you have thoughts about injuring yourself or someone else, or if you feel like there is no hope for the future and that your condition will never improve, seek medical attention immediately.