I was in awe of the beauty around me. The sky was a crystal clear blue, the sun was beaming down upon me, and the trees showing their newly changed leaves.
A slight breeze in the air helped some of the leaves to take flight and flurry across my windshield as I drove along. This is magnificent, I thought to myself.
Suddenly, my moment of bliss was overtaken by the realization that in a matter of time, all of this beauty right before my eyes, would soon be replaced. In its place would be bare trees, gloomy, gray skies, and freezing temperatures with a biting wind to match. My heart was heavy and all I could think of was John Snow saying “Winter is Coming.”
It’s not that I hate winter, in fact, I love it because winter means snow, and snow means that I get to go skiing! Winter also means bundling up in your coziest sweaters, downing hot chocolate one after the other, and eating your way through the holiday season.
The only problem is that once the holidays are over, everything feels sort of blah, and the only thing to look forward to is the promise of warm weather.
Nothing hits harder than daylight saving time. The shift in time and shorter days can really mess with you. Once the sun starts going down, my mood gets dragged down along with it. This, my friends, is called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (how fitting?) for short. Seasonal affective disorder, also referred to as seasonal depression, is a mood disorder and occurs when someone experiences a shift in their mood around the same time each year.
Symptoms of SAD include feelings of depression, fatigue and even weight gain. While there is no known cause for SAD, scientists believe it may have something to do with the lack of sunshine and the effect that has on the production of serotonin, a chemical produced by the brain that is vital to regulating one’s mood.
If you think that these symptoms may apply to you, or you find yourself feeling a bit more down during the colder months, fret not. There are plenty of natural ways to boost your brain’s production of serotonin, thus improving your mood and making even the darkest of days feel a bit brighter.
It is no secret that exercise has many benefits to your health, and serotonin production is one of them! This explains why you tend to be in a much better mood after working out. Aerobic exercises, like running or biking, are a surefire way to increase the release of serotonin, but lighter exercise like yoga can help as well.
Nothing improves my mood like the good ol’ outdoors and an abundance of fresh air in my lungs. Going outside during the hours when the sun is shining its brightest can be extremely beneficial to combatting SAD. Even better, why not bundle up and take your workout outside? The cooler temperatures actually help you to burn more calories, as your body has to exert more energy than usual to keep you warm, which can help with the possible weight gain associated with SAD.
If the sun isn’t peeking out of the clouds as much as you would like, try to incorporate Vitamin D into your daily routine. This can come in the form of a pill or foods rich in it, like salmon, mushrooms, eggs, and cow’s milk as well as soy milk.
Don’t worry, the shift in seasons doesn’t have to mean a shift in your mood. By following the tips above, you are guaranteed to have a happier and healthier winter!