Last week’s Winter Solstice marked the arrival of longer days and shorter nights. But we still have to make it through a dozen winter weeks before we can believe that spring will come again. Although not everyone will experience a full-blown case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, most of us do feel twinges of discontent when daylight grows so scarce.
The lack of sunlight throws off body chemistry. With less sunshine, we produce less serotonin. That decreases melatonin production. And this wreaks havoc on our Circadian rhythm. This is a major reason winter days bring us down.
What’s the best way to beat the blues? Eat, drink, and get active!
Eat foods that are healthy, fresh, and preservative-free. Avoid “sugar highs” that lead to a crash, which is just one more downer. Hydrate your body with water. Dehydration is especially likely in winter weather and the symptoms of dehydration are surprisingly similar to symptoms of depression. Don’t lubricate with alcohol, which is a depressant, or amp-up on caffeine, which disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle even more.
And stay active – whether you go at the gym, walk the dog, hit the slopes, or take up yoga or Tai Chi. Aerobic exercise stimulates our systems and we get a blast of serotonin and endorphins, too. Meditative practices, such as tai chi, do a fantastic job of calming the mind and generating positive feelings; both of these help to cure the winter blues and give us hope that a brighter day is on its way.
Remember, feeling hopeful about the future is key to feeling better about the now.
I’m Suzanne Degges-White and that’s my perspective.