The most awaited season of the year has finally set in. Winter is well known for crisp fresh air, lazy morning and long nights. It is the time of the year to bask in the sun,enjoy the beautiful sunset, and cold weather. However, the cool temperatures and fewer daylight hours can be cruel to your mental state.
Dr Priyanka from Mind Temple says, “Winter is a season to enjoy but it can also affect your mental state in a number of ways. It could range from feeling dull to sever depression. Winter is the time when the depression is on rise especially to those who already have a history of stress because during this season the days are shorter and darkness leads laziness, tiredness and dullness.”
Winter is a season to enjoy the cold weather but as the days gets shorter and nights get colder even the best of us get affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) also known as winter blues or winter depression. Let’s understand how to feel happy and avoid the winter blues.
Expose yourself to sunlight
Though it may seem cold to move out of the house, it helps when you go out for an early morning walk. Take a walk or go outside as much as possible when the sun is shining. "Lack of exposure to sun light can cause many people to feel depressed" says Priyanka.
Studies suggest that exercising releases the feel good hormones which help to keep depression at bay. You can go out for a morning walk or jog, join a gym or simply perform your exercise indoor. The winter months are excellent for weight training, you can join the gym and perform these exercise under the supervision of a trainer and burn calories. Nutritionist Pooja says, “There are many great indoor exercises like cleaning the house, sweeping, swabbing, washing clothes that can be easily performed. Any form of exercise that gets your blood pumping is a good way to deal with winter blues and live a healthier lifestyle.”
It is natural to crave for fatty food in winter, but eating a balanced diet helps in minimizing the winter blues. Nutritionist Pooja says, “There is a craving for sweet and fried foods in winter. Eating fried foods and sweet food should be curbed as they lead to mood swings. Citrus fruits like oranges and sweet lime are easily available in this season. Eating fruits instead of sweets helps to curb the sugar craving and is also healthy. The portion and frequency of indulgence of fried food should be controlled to keep up the spirits in winter.”
Drink green tea instead of coffee as coffee agitates your mind and makes you feel stressed, anxious and depressed while green tea contains antioxidants that help to alleviate the mood.
Avoid binge drinking
Winter is a season when it seems fun to enjoy a glass of wine. Moderate drinking is fine in the cold weather but binge drinking is a not the right choice. Binge drinking can make you feel sick, depressed and even more tired. Low energy levels also affect your mood. Secondly, many people turn to alcohol when they are feeling low, but alcohol is actually a depressant and rather than improving your mood it makes you feel worse.
We all know laughter is the best medicine but laughing is particularly important in winter as it helps to reduce stress levels. Laughing increase the level of endorphins in the body and keeps anxiety away. Join a laughter club, watch a good humorous movie or simply laugh out aloud to minimize the winter blues.
We all love to sleep in the cold weather but with the ever busy schedules sleep is the first thing to go. With a little time management, you can follow a regular sleep schedule. Try to keep your bedtime and waking up time consistent to have deep sleep. Do not over sleep as it will eventually drain your energy making you feel more tired.
Proper sleep is also important for proper hormone balance. An imbalance in hormone level can lead to anxiety and increase the winter blues.
You may have busy schedules but make time to relax. Relaxing minimizes stress levels and keeps you energetic all through the day. Read a book, listen to music, meditate or choose any other form of relaxation that you enjoy.
Cold weather and busy schedules together makes it difficult to keep in touch with friends. Meeting friends, communicating with friends help to reduce fatigue, boosts happiness, increase your sense of belonging and purpose, reduce stress, improves self worth and hence minimizes the risk of developing mental illness.
Enjoy the weather as it lasts only for a few months in a year. See winter in a positive light with all the enjoyment, fun activities and the pleasant weather that it has to offer and it will keep your spirits high.