Seasonal Depression: How to Fight the Autumn & Winter Blues
Friends, parents, coworkers – you hear the same thing from almost everyone as the days get shorter: “I’m so incredibly tired.” We find it harder to get out of bed, and we feel like we’re yawning the whole day. The reason for this has to do with the lack of sunlight.
“Seasonal depression”: When fall and winter get you down
If you are feeling tired, down and low on energy in the colder months, you’re not alone. People who live far north or south of the equator often experience seasonal depression or SAD (seasonal affective disorder). For example, 1 percent of those who live in Florida and 9 percent of those who live in New England or Alaska suffer from SAD.
But don’t worry — you don’t have to take a pill or anything. The best medicine, in this case, is still sunlight: the reduction of daylight in fall causes your body to produce fewer mood-enhancing hormones.
Did you know that…
…light influences our hormone levels? The light receptors in the eye contain a protein called melanopsin. When light hits the eye, melanopsin undergoes a chemical change that sends signals to the brain blocking the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. When it’s dark outside, this chemical reaction does not occur and we end up feeling tired all the time.
What really helps with the fall and winter blues: 6 useful tips
1. Listen to your favorite songs
Music improves your mood: studies have shown that music can have a positive effect on the production of the “feel-good” hormone serotonin. How about listening to some Jack Johnson songs? Just close your eyes and imagine you’re on vacation…
2. Soak up the sunlight
It is especially important at this time of the year to get as much sunlight as possible. Is it a beautiful day, but you have to work late tonight? Then at least eat your lunch outside. Go for a short walk and take some of your wonderful coworkers with you. You will see that the fresh air does you good. Plus, it will help you soak up a little extra vitamin D. However, if there isn’t much daylight at the moment, then try eating a diet high in vitamin D.
3. Make sure to stay hydrated
In summer, we pay a lot of attention to staying hydrated. But you shouldn’t forget to get plenty of fluids when the weather turns cool: drinking too little water can slow down your metabolism and make you feel tired. Also, since you will be cranking up the heat indoors, your skin will be drier than in summer. That’s more than enough reason to drink a little extra water — your body will thank you for it.
Use this calculator to find your ideal fluid requirement per day:
4. Get plenty of sleep
Playing volleyball, grilling out or swimming at the lake: in summer, we had no trouble staying out late in the evening and still getting up for work the next day. During this time, our bodies developed a certain rhythm without us noticing it, and we got in the habit of going to bed quite late. Now, it is time to get back to your regular sleep schedule, go to bed earlier and try to get seven to nine hours of sleep.
5. Keep up with your workouts
Did you like to do your bodyweight training with the Results app outside when the weather was warm? And now that it’s cold, do you have trouble getting motivated? We know it’s hard, but try to stick with your workouts — even if it’s in your living room. Exercise gets your blood flowing and gives you an energy boost.
6. Transition to a fall diet
If you want to stay fit and healthy in fall and winter, it’s important to adjust your diet. Focus on vitamin-rich and seasonal meals that strengthen your immune system and eat good-mood foods. These can include eggs, pumpkin, horseradish, wild-caught fish (salmon, herring, trout) and mushrooms.
What are your tips for avoiding seasonal depression? Let us know in the comments below — we’d love to hear your ideas!