Winters for some ,a relief from the scroching heat and for most an excuse to become couch potatoes. Seasonal affective disorders are common and one of which is most common is Winter depression also known as “winter blues”. Deprsession, mood swings, loss of energy, social withdrawl, oversleeping, lack of interest in activities are all associated with it.
The main cause behind it is a hormonal imbalance of Serotonin (hormone that regulates mood, deficiency of which results in depression and over production causes mania) and Melatonin (sleep inducing hormone). Due to low temperatures, long nights ,shorter days and lesser sunlight, the balance between these hormones gets disturbbed resulting in depression. As serotonin is released in light and daylight diminishes early in winters, the level of this hormone lowers in the body. This also lowers immunity level and makes us prone to cold and flu.However the levels of melatonin increases- also due to diminishing daylight- and causes feeling of exhaustion and depression which can be there for few days or for the entire winter season.
Michael Terman, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center, notes that winter depression is often spurred by waking up in darkness rather than light, which affects your body clock in a way that he calls “depressogenic.” Paradoxically, then, this means that the end of daylight saving time may initially help those who suffer winter depression, because turning the clock back means it will more likely be light out when you wake up.For people who are prone to the winter blues, Terman suggests trying light therapy. Exposure to bright light, especially upon waking up, has three major positive effects that can relieve depression,
- It keeps the circadian clock in check, preventing it from drifting later than your desired, or workday, sleep period.
- It’s an energizer that gives a morning boost, whether you’re depressed or just sluggish.
- And it has direct antidepressant properties, stimulating the same neurotransmitters (serotonin) as antidepressant medications.
Beating the winter blues is easy and simple there are many things that one can do to combat it. Expose yourself to light by getting up early in the morning and basking in the sunlight for some time. Those who suffer from major depressive disorder may take light therapy indoors. Get more sunbaths, try to sit near the windows when in resturant or bus, changing your home bulbs to full spectrum also helps.
What we eat has a huge effect on how we feel, so eat healthy. avoid all the refined food items so eat fresh seasonal fruits and food that has good complex carbohydrates like brown rice and multi grain bread.Beware of sweet things, addiction to them is real and can lead to weight gain.
Wear bright vibrant colours like orange, red, purple they help to cheer up and stimulates your energy levels. Wrap up yourself in warm colours like burgundy, black and brown. Go on shopping for buying winter clothes and acessories you wont even feel guilty afterwards for shopping too much because afterall its essential for winters and also to look trendy and stylish. This way you will be forcing yourself outside hence exposing yourself to sunlight.
Hang out with your friends, make plans for the weekends. A reason for converting the mild depression in to a moderate or sometime sever is because been isolated and nonsocial. So hanging out with your buddies and geting back in your social circle will definitely lift your mood.
Excercise, not only to stay fit and healthy but also to relieve stress. Join a gym or the best way is to go out for jogging. This also increses the release of serotonin and help in decreasing depression level. However, take precautions during exercise through temperature management. If you take out your woolen clothes after exercising, this may cause severe joint pain. So always wear clothes in layers and before leaving gym, wear your woolens.
Most of us want to sleep a little bit more during the winter. But with all we have going on, sometimes sleep is the first thing to go. With a little time management, and some self-discipline, you can meet your shut-eye needs. Aim for 7-8 hours each night, and try to keep your bedtime and waking time consistent. That way, your sleeping patterns can normalize and you’ll have more energy. Try not to oversleep—those 12-hour snoozes on the weekend can actually make you MORE tired.
And last but not the least try to stay relax and happy. As Anton Chekhov said;
“People dont notice whether its winter or summer when they are happy “