"As Seasons change, there is a shift in our ‘biological internal clocks’ or circadian rhythm due partly because of changes in sunlight patterns," says Andrea Rogers, Supervisor for Intensive Outpatient Programs in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai. "These changes combined with the stresses of Holiday travel, sensitive family dynamics and managing expectations can build a recipe for depression during the winter months. Juggling these variables can be challenging and can make it difficult to enjoy the joys of the season."
So, if you find yourself having low energy, are overly tired, gaining weight, have trouble sleeping and feel irritable around this time of year, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)… but there’s hope!
Here are some bright ideas to help get you through the winter blues:
Lighten Things Up
There are many products on the market today specifically designed to assist people with SAD. There are many lamps, dawn simulators and light boxes that simulate the sun’s natural rays (emitting 2500 to 10,000 lux), but they can be a bit pricey. Personally, I like full-spectrum light bulbs at the hardware store that emit a minimum of 2500 lux.
Turn your bedroom lights on a half hour before your alarm goes off using a simple timer - essentially creating an artificial dawn.
Let The Sun Shine In
Exposing your eyes to natural sunlight by spending time outdoors or near a window with lots of direct sunlight really helps! Yes, open those blackout drapes as soon as you get up. (Note: One hour of aerobic exercise outside, even on a cloudy day, has the same therapeutic effects as 2.5 hours of indoor light therapy.)
Okay, those new Ray Bans may look cool, but try not wearing sunglasses! Again, the key here is to get as much natural sunlight as possible. Besides, if the eyes are the windows to your soul – do you really want to cover those peepers up?
Food Is My Friend
It may be time to get some new friends, especially if your friends are high-carbohydrate sugary junk food and soda! These “friends” make you feel good by raising serotonin levels, which gets low with the winter blues, but the effect is only temporary, leaving you feeling zapped! Depending on your dietary needs, some suggestions are: foods rich in soluble fiber (oats, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, peas, beans) lessen mood swings; protein (skinless poultry, seafood, round or loin cuts of red meat tofu, eggs) helps slow absorption of carbohydrates; fish and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, omega-3 fortified eggs) can be mood lifters. Also, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Color Me Happy
Get rid of dark boring colors and lighten up! Take away the drab and add some fab bright bold colors to your wardrobe and makeup. Change your hairstyle. Get out the paint and rollers and add some warm vibrant colors to your walls! If painting is too adventurous, try hanging colorful artwork and using cheerful colored pillows and throws on the furniture.
Wondering which winter blues buster might work best for you? Give a call and let’s find out!