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Melt Away Your Winter Woes

winter woes

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Melt Away Your Winter Woes

It’s normal to feel more sluggish and down in the winter

● It’s body chemistry
○ Wintertime can affect levels of Vitamin D and melatonin
○ You may feel slower in the winter because of the extra energy your body is using to stay warm

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

● A type of depression that hits people around the same time every year
○ It usually starts in the fall and lasts into winter
○ It’s treated with light therapy, psychotherapy and medication
● 20% of Americans suffer from seasonal mood changes
● SAD is more common in women and those who have depression or a family history of depression
● Symptoms include depressions, feelings of hopelessness, feelings of heaviness in your limbs, weight gain and loss of interest in things you once enjoyed

How do you fight off wintertime weariness?

Workout
● Cold weather and snow can make working out hard, but exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, endorphins, that will help to lift your mood
● If it seems too hard to work out, set yourself goals and reward yourself for meeting them
○ Buy yourself a new sweater if you run a mile every day in a week
● In the wintertime, you can shift your exercise indoors
○ Try taking a class at a local gym
■ Dance, kickboxing, yoga

Watch what you eat
● Avoid foods that are fatty or sugary
○ These foods can have a high impact on you blood sugar level and leave you feeling cranky
● Look for foods with omega-3 fatty acids, good carbs (whole grains and veggies), protein and B vitamins
○ Oatmeal for breakfast is a good choice because it contains fiber-rich whole grains that increase serotonin – another feel-good chemical in the brain
○ Look for salmon, a food high in omega-3
○ Foods such as fortified tofu, cheese and shellfish are rich in B Vitamins, which help fight depression

Embrace winter
● Winter has a lot to offer that you can choose to enjoy
○ Hot chocolate
○ Warm sweaters
○ Department store sales
○ You don’t have to shave your legs (females) or beard (males)

Don’t hibernate
● Because humans are social creatures, getting together and socializing automatically boosts our moods
● The more you let yourself stay home alone, the more you will wallow
○ Make weekend plans with friends
○ Go out to dinner once a week
● If you stay in all winter, then by the time spring comes all of your friends will have moved on without you

Plan your summer vacation
● Even if you can’t take a trip in the winter, planning a warm-weather trip will give you something to look forward to
○ Planning a vacation months in advance will also give you plenty of time to save money, relieving some stress

Soak up the sun
● The body produces Vitamin D when exposed to UVB light from the sun
● During winter, we aren’t outside very much and the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough to give us all the light we need
● If you’re feeling very sluggish, you may be experiencing a Vitamin D deficiency
○ Light also suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone
■ Less light exposure means more melatonin, making you sleepier throughout the day
○ Consider investing in a light box to get more UVB exposure
● Reduced sunlight can also mess with your body’s circadian rhythms – the internal clock – confusing it so it doesn’t know when it should be awake or asleep
● Tip: Try opening your windows as soon as you wake up to soak up sunlight at one of the best times of day

Winter Woes

Sources:
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20447948_2,00.html
http://www.refinery29.com/2013/12/58595/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047
http://www.thenorthwindonline.com/?p=3869384
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686645/

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