I’m not a big fan of winter, the temperatures have hit sub zero and the snow is falling. It’s a daily struggle trying to avoid getting the latest cold virus and then there’s the tiredness. The very thought of venturing to the gym only makes me want to curl up by the fire. I’m tired of wearing the same winter coat and wearing layers or thick sweaters. I truly miss the summer sun and searching for packaged holidays has become my main focus. I wouldn’t say I suffer from SADs but I’m most certainly feeling the winter blues.
But many countries contend with longer winters than we Brits do, so it got me to thinking of how they manage to stay positive during these cold times. How do they survive days like these?
It seems our friends who contend with long bleak winters simply embrace it. It gives everyone time to slow down and enjoy being at home and spending quality time with loved ones. Sounds great doesn’t it. Can simply changing our mind sets really create enjoyment during the winter months.
For me personally, craving the sunshine is something I long for. Even in these sub zero days, any tiny glimpse of the suns rays breaking through gets me running to the window to take it all in. Getting my daily dose of Vitamin D is an essential nutrient especially during the winter months. Because let’s face it, low amounts of vitamin D can make us more prone to illness and is responsible for depression and anxiety in some.
One way to beat the winter blues is the therapeutic use of light. Light therapy involves sitting close to a light box for 30 minutes a day, usually shortly after waking up. These types of boxes can provide 10,000 lux (a measure of light intensity) which is about 100 times brighter than typical indoor lighting, but only 1/5 the brightness of a sunny day. The idea behind the light box is that during each session your eyes must be open, so you can use this time to relax, eat or even read. It’s been found that individuals with winter depression often have an abnormally high level of melatonin but light therapy can bring it down to normal levels.
I haven’t quite reached the stage to invest in light therapy but I have opted for an alarm clock with a wake up call daylight simulator. Instead of waking up with sound, the alarm wakes up using light. The alarm clock mimics natural sunrise by starting with a very low light that gradually brightens over 30 to 45 minutes. It’s working surprisingly well, my mornings consist of very early starts and with the current cold dark mornings. The alarm clock has left me waking up feeling more awake and refreshed as opposed to super tired.
But it’s my lack of motivation to exercise that is an other major hurdle in my winter blues fight. Physical exercise is a ‘feel good’ stimulant it fights depression, gets you fit but also gets the body warmed up. When it’s cold outside it’s simply a chore getting to the gym. But I’m still working on it and plan to enjoy a country walk over the weekend (yes even in the cold and snow) to boost my feel good factor.
I will not let the winter blues beat me.