The Winter Blues
It’s January, again, and it’s cold, the days are too short and most of the time dreary. Once Christmas is over, I find that I start to feel tired and not so merry anymore. I literally mean it, when I take the tree, the decorations and the lights down, I get into a real funk. I feel tired, I can’t concentrate and I don’t feel the happiness I did in December. Getting ready for Christmas was a busy time but at least I had the energy to shop, clean and cook. Now, I could care less if I did any of those things. This isn’t normal for me, I am the type of person who takes great pride in keeping an organized home, cooking with love for my family and being on top of everything. After some research, I found out I am not alone in this slump I am feeling.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real and up to 15% of Canadians will experience some form of SAD in their lifetime. Maybe you are wondering what SAD really is? SAD is a form of depression that occurs in the Fall or Winter months. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are fatigue during those winter months, loss of interest in their regular activities, weight gain and craving carbohydrate foods.
What causes SAD? Well, to be honest, there isn’t any known cause for SAD but it is a proven fact that the people who live in the northern countries are more prone to SAD. Being that our days are shorter and our exposure to the sun is very limited at this time of the year is one reason. SAD also tends to run in the family. This I know to be true, my sister also has the same symptoms as I do during this time of the year. It makes sense, I am full of energy all summer long, even during the Fall and early winter months I feel great. It’s always during the month of January and February that I feel run down and out of sorts.
Tips to help beat those blues
What can you do to help reduce the symptoms of SAD? Well, I have a few tips that I have tried and DO work if you keep at it.
- Because SAD is known to affect people north of the border due to lack of sunshine during winter months, getting outside when it is bright and sunny will definitely make you feel better. If you work indoors, try getting outside at lunch for a quick walk. Leave the sunglasses off! Don’t block the sun’s rays when you are out walking, you need the full benefit of the sun to help you feel better.
- Use a full spectrum light. I have changed my regular light bulbs for the full spectrum bulbs in my kitchen because I can be sure that I will get my 15 minutes of light that way. Keep them on during the darker hours in early evening will give you the same benefits as the sunshine will.
- Remember your vitamin D! It is so important for everyone in Canada to make sure they take vitamin D. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, meaning we get our vitamin D from the sun naturally, but that’s only in the summer months here in Canada. You need to have your skin exposed to the sun for 15 minutes a day to get your daily D but our sun isn’t strong enough in the winter, so we need to take the supplement.
- Exercise is important all year round, but really is needed through those long winter days for energy. I have a hard time being motivated into anything when I feel tired and down but making exercise, especially if it’s outdoors, a priority, makes me feel so much better.
Do you suffer from SAD? What tips have you tried that work?Disclosure: Having one or more of above mentioned symptoms doesn’t guarantee you are suffering from SAD. See your doctor if you are concerned with feelings of depression, fatigue or other symptoms you don’t feel are normal for you. This article is to share my story and what I did to help myself, it is not intended as medical advice.