Not everyone enjoys winter. While for some people it's the most cheerful time of the year, for others it can be the time where they feel down, sad, and depressed. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and affects a surprising number of people. Find out how you can beat the winter blues!
Although a lot of folks enjoy wintertime and the cheerful holiday season, this isn't always the case for everyone. For some, winter can be the most difficult time of the year. The shorter days and lack of sunlight in winter, along with other factors, can negatively affect our mood. People may feel tired and without energy, and they may become sad and depressed. For what we call the winter blues, there is even a scientific name: seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
If you’re suffering from winter blues or feeling down in the wintertime, don’t despair! There are some things that you can do to beat the winter blues. To help you understand what is going on and what brings us down in the winter, let’s first take a look at the symptoms and causes for the winter blues.
Most of the time, the winter blues don’t hit around the holidays, but Christmas is often when symptoms may start to show. The peak for the winter blues is normally in January and February, when the holiday season is already over. Since the winter blues (or seasonal affective disorder) has to do with the seasons, it mostly affects people who live in Northern regions, and not so much those who live in sunny and tropical areas.
Typical symptoms of the winter blues include feeling tired and being low on energy. You may sleep more than usual and will have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. You may feel unmotivated and can’t really find interest in things, including your friends and those activities that you otherwise enjoy. You may become sad and depressed, but also irritable and moody. It’s not uncommon that this can also put strain on relationships, which can suffer as a result. Some people withdraw in the winter from social activities and start overeating and gaining weight.
It is noteworthy to mention that the winter blues are said to affect women a lot more than men.
It is believed that there are several factors that can cause the winter blues, and that there isn’t one single factor responsible for all of the symptoms. The opinions of experts vary here, but most of them agree that one major reason for the blues is the lack of daylight in the winter that messes with our hormones.
Lack of sunlight
One theory is that the shorter days in winter with less natural light affect the hypothalamus, which is a part of our brain that plays a role in forming neurotransmitters. It has been found that people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder normally have lower levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are hormones that affect our mood, energy level, appetite, and sleep. In addition to a lack of these “happy hormones”, people also have higher levels of melatonin, which is a hormone that makes us tired.
Winter messes with our “biological clock”
In addition to affecting our hormone levels, another theory is that the lack of daylight in winter also affects our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s biological clock. When our internal clock gets disrupted in winter, it can cause symptoms similar to jet lag, where we get tired at the “wrong” time and have troubles sleeping when we should.
Lack of daylight causes vitamin d deficiency
Yet another effect of less sunlight in winter is a lack vitamin D. This happens because vitamin D is created when we’re exposed to sunlight. With low levels of vitamin D in the winter come symptoms such as depression and anxiety, along with other potential health issues.
Winter blues could also be genetic
The winter blues might also be genetic. This means that some people may simply be more sensitive to it, which puts them at a higher risk for depression in the winter. Scientists have even speculated that the winter blues may be something natural that is ingrained in us from prehistoric times. They think that the winter blues may come from an ancient survival mechanism that helped our ancestors survive harsh winters. After all, many animals hibernate in the wintertime to conserve energy. The winter blues may be a leftover of this.
One other reason that you may feel down in winter is from what’s known as “post-holiday depression”. Post-holiday depression isn’t really a medical condition, but is more a result of many negative things that can come about during this time of the year. Firstly, there are of course the holidays, when some people get stressed out for all kinds of reasons. They indulge in unhealthy foods and may not get enough sleep. Moreover, with the holidays usually comes money troubles for many people. We get stressed out since we feel that we need to spend lots of money, as this is what the holiday season in our culture is unfortunately mostly about.
Stress with family
The holidays can be stressful when we need to deal with family and friends. It’s not always just fun when the family gets together. Sometimes, what is supposed to be a joyful get-together for Christmas may turn into disagreements and fighting instead.
Holidays can make people feel lonely
And lastly, the holidays can be a difficult time for those who may have separated from a partner or those who have lost loved ones.
Here is some good news: We call it winter blues since, well, it only happens in the winter. This means that the winter blues will go away on its own in spring and summer. Great! Then again, you don’t need to wait that long, because there are some things you can do to beat the winter blues in winter!
Load up on vitamin d
As mentioned, one reason that you might be feeling down is due to a lack of vitamin D. Most of us don’t even get enough vitamin D during the rest of the year, so it’s likely you will be lacking it especially in the darker months of the year. To keep a positive mood in winter, make sure that you get plenty of vitamin D. Look into foods such as vitamin D milk that are enriched with the vitamin. You can also take a vitamin D supplement to help you with the winter blues.
Meditation is a great way to get into positive and relaxed mood. And no worries, you don’t need to be a zen master or practice meditation for hours on end to get a positive effect from it. Just 12–15 minutes of relaxing meditation at the start of your day can make a big difference. Try it for yourself and you will see how mood-lifting and relaxing it can be!
Drink uzuma juice to get your winter vitamins
Among the reasons that we feel down and lack energy can be due to not getting enough vitamins and other nutrients that our body needs. Especially in the wintertime, fresh fruits and veggies are sometimes hard to come by. Our healthy Uzuma slow juices help you beat the winter blues. Just one 240ml bottle of Uzuma slow juice contains all the goodness and vitamins and nutrients of 1kg of fresh fruits and vegetables. Uzuma juices are the easiest way to boost your diet with the nutrition your body needs in the winter. You can enjoy fresh Uzuma slow juices at any time of day, even if you can’t find the time to prepare a balanced and healthy meal.
Plan something that you love to do
Wintertime doesn’t mean that you have to curl up in your bed and hide, even if you may at times feel like it. Instead, lift yourself up and plan something nice that you can look forward to. There are many things that can get you into a better mood: You can plan a short weekend trip, maybe host a movie party with some friends, or go out for lunch. If you have a hobby, such as crafting, sewing, painting, or fixing things around your home, you can set goals during this usually unmotivated period. When you give yourself a purpose, something that you can look forward to, you will see that it will greatly help boost your mood.
Don’t let the cold weather in winter keep you inside all day long! It may sound like your grandma’s advice, but getting some fresh air can be very mood-lifting and inspiring. The best thing is that you don’t have to go on a lengthy walk, and no, you don’t need to climb mountains either. A walk of just 15 minutes can do wonders to get you in a good mood! Try it out for yourself and see how much better you feel! Just make sure that you’re properly dressed for the wintertime.
See family and friends
Although feeling depressed may make you want to keep yourself all curled up in your home, doing this won’t help matters much. Get outside and see your family and friends, talk with them about how you feel. Who knows, you may well find that you’re not the only person feeling blue in the winter! Meeting up with good friends and family and talking can be one of the best ways to get you out of a negative mindset.
Make sure you eat well
Balanced and healthy nutrition is important all year long, but it’s particularly important in the wintertime for a healthy body and mind. However, what makes things worse is that people who feel the winter blues often crave unhealthy foods such as sugary snacks and foods that are loaded with carbs. Make sure that you eat well and charge up on the nutrients that your body needs. Look into healthy winter foods, such as fish, dark green vegetables, nuts, and fresh fruits. For an additional boost of healthy vitamins to your diet, check out the healthy Uzuma slow juices. Uzuma slow juices can be perfect if you can’t find fresh fruits and vegetables, or if you don’t want to or don’t have the time to prepare balanced meals.
Get a healthy dose of light
Health experts agree that lack of sunlight in winter is one major contributing factor for the winter blues. So go outside and take in as much light as you can. To get a good dose of healthy sunlight, you can try short walks around midday when the sun is brightest. To help you with your winter blues, you can also look into light therapy. You can obtain a light box, which is a particularly strong light that resembles natural outdoor light. It is believed that light therapy can help people with their seasonal affective disorder symptoms.
A lot of people are affected by the winter blues, or what health experts call seasonal affective disorder. Thankfully, there are things that you can do to feel better and happier in the wintertime. From meditation, to changes in your diet, to taking supplements, you can try our tips to see whether they can help you get through the winter months. But if you can’t find relief with these tips, don’t forget that consulting with a medical expert is always a good option. A doctor can advise you on what you can do to enjoy winter to the fullest, without the winter blues.