Every winter many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or seasonal depression. It’s fairly common for people to experience low mood or depressive symptoms for the winter months. Decreased sunlight, fewer opportunities to be active outside and an overall desire to stay cozy and inside can contribute to this. Seasonal affective disorder can be treated with a SAD lamp, among other things. This is a lamp that provides light therapy, similar to the positive effects of sunlight which can improve mood a bit. Besides a SAD lamp, maintaining an active lifestyle and taking a vitamin D supplement can help as well.
Staying active in the winter
We all know it’s important to stay active all year round, but it’s especially important to keep this up during the winter months. During the winter we naturally want to make like animals and hibernate. It’s cold, the sun doesn’t shine, and we want to stay cozied up inside. Although allowing your body to rest is important, too much hibernation can lead to seasonal affective disorder, fatigue, trouble sleeping and low energy in general.
During the colder months, your heart rate generally doesn’t get as high as it does during exercise in the warmer months. Because of this, you generally sweat less and use less energy, increasing your endurance. You can also get creative with how to stay active. You don’t have to exercise outside if it’s too cold, and if you don’t have a gym membership you can exercise at home. Any sort of physical activity in the winter is good for us. Look up workout videos online and do them in your living room. Stretch. Do yoga. Walk around the mall. In general, 30 minutes of mild activity per day is recommended, but even just a ten-minute burst of activity will serve you well in the colder months.
Dressing for cold weather
If you are working out outside, be sure to dress in layers so you can allow your body to cool and sweat as you work out. Also, keep your head covered with a hat or earmuffs. We lose most of our body heat through our heads. Regular exercise will help improve your mood, give you more energy, and help you sleep better.
Getting regular vitamin D
Additionally, it’s important to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D in the winter. About 40% of people are vitamin D deficient year-round, and that number increases in the winter. The main way we get vitamin D is from the sun, and if the sun isn’t shining or it’s too cold to go outside, obviously we can be lacking. Taking a vitamin D supplement can help maintain healthy amounts of vitamin D in your diet. Speak with your doctor first to make sure you’re taking the correct amount. You can also increase your vitamin D with a handy dandy SAD lamp. And finally, eating foods rich in vitamin D such as pork, mushrooms and fish can help increase your levels as well.
The winter can be a tough time for a lot of people. Seasonal affective disorder rears its ugly head, we feel cold and tired and we’re missing out on some important vitamins. Getting regular exercise, using a SAD lamp and taking vitamin D supplements can all help improve your mood and overall physical health in the winter months.