For when you’re feeling winter blues

It’s common to feel less enthusiastic about the colder months. But as winter approaches, if your mood is significantly lower it could mean something more.

One in four Australians experience increased irritability and a feeling of pessimism during the winter months according to a survey undertaken by McCrindle. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is linked to a lack of sunlight during the colder months. This can stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly.

Symptoms of SAD in winter include:

  • lack of energy
  • sleeping too much
  • finding it hard to wake up in the morning
  • feeling very tired all the time
  • overeating and craving carbohydrates
  • gaining weight
  • losing interest in normal activities.

How you approach the rainy season from a mental point of view can make a big difference. If you’re feeling SAD, here are a few ways you can change up your routine to help you adapt to these crisp days and chilly evenings.

LightWinter blues2.jpg

A great way of combatting the winter blues is with light. While many of us attribute an early sunset to a drop in mood, there’s actually a bit of science behind it.

Winter slows down your body’s production of serotonin and causes an imbalance of neurotransmitters, both of which contribute to your overall mood.

To get more light into your system during the dark and gloomy months, try allowing more natual light into your house and sitting beside the window on a sunny day.  

While it may be hard to convince yourself to get outside while it’s really cold, rugging up and getting some sun on your face is a great way to get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Walking outside in the sun for 30 minutes three times a week is all it takes for Vitamin D to do its stuff. 

Change up your exercise routine

When it’s cold after work and freezing early in the morning, it’s not easy to motivate yourself to get out and exercise.

However, exercise is a great mood booster. So it’s important to incorporate some form of physical activity into your lifestyle, even during the colder months.

So while early morning bootcamp in the rain might not be your go to at this time of year, why not try something new that you can do indoors, like pilates, yoga or boxing. Even something simple like going for a walk with a friend is a great way to incorporate exercise; getting some vitamin D and socialsing all at once.

Regular exercise can also help improve your sleep quality, which is especially important when you consider that oversleeping can be a cause of winter blues.

Socialise

Getting out of the house and catching up with someone close to you could be the best thing for you when you’re feeling down.

Meeting up with friends can help boost the oxytocin in the brain, which is a feel-good chemical similar to serotonin and dopamine. 

Take some time out

There’s no better time than during winter to indulge in some relaxation and self-care. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Try some relaxation exercises such as guided meditation or breathing exercises – there are plenty of these on YouTube that you can check out for free (Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer are three excellent quality apps that can assist with guided meditation and breathing)
  • Take a warm bath
  • Get a massage

If the winter blues does start to feel too much, make sure you talk to someone about it – a trusted friend, family member, or your GP or other health professional. SAD is rare in Australia but you should never feel alone if you’re not coping.