As the bitter temperatures and snow continue to prolong spring’s arrival, I’ve heard many people say “I’m done with winter!” Do you find yourself feeling the effects of the long winter, maybe being cooped up without enough fresh air or sunlight? Perhaps you’re suffering from ‘cabin fever’ or ‘winter blues.’
The decrease in natural light in winter months can actually change one’s brain chemistry. Levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin drop in winter months while levels of sleep-promoting melatonin increase. The combination of changes in these two brain chemicals can lead to mild depression or the more serious condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD may include sleeping too much, eating too much, decreased energy, decreased ability to concentrate and social withdrawal. If any of these symptoms begin to interfere with your ability to function at home or work, you may need to seek professional diagnoses and treatment. Your doctor can work with you to develop a treatment to help you through the winter months.
There are things you can do to combat the winter blues, according to Dr. Mark Frye, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic.
• Get outside – Natural light is good for you. Take a break at lunch and go for a walk.
• Light Therapy Boxes – These can help if you’re unable to get outdoors.
• Exercise – Try for at least three times a week for 30 minutes.
• Socialize – Interact with family and friends on a regular basis.
Winter won’t last forever… spring IS coming! Until then, use these tips to elevate your mood and energy and to live healthy AND well!
Hanson, Nick. “Experts Offer Advice to Avoid Winter Blues” Mayo Clinic News Network. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/experts-offer-advice-to-avoid-winter-blues
Image source: <a href=”http://www.4freephotos.com/Couple_walking_in_snow-image-c4f8a5092e0211a44f2d21a148f8b937.html”>Couple walking in snow from 4freephotos.com</a>
Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, email@example.com