Here we are in November… The weather gets a little cooler each day, forcing you to dig out your winter scarves and sweaters, and bundle before you leave the house; the trees are almost bare, shedding the last of their colourful fall foliage; the days are getting shorter – less daylight as we move through the motions of each day. I find the first few days like this are so refreshing – the cool air is crisp in my lungs as I breathe in, and it feels good to hide inside the house and wrap up under a blanket on the couch.
For a couple weeks it almost felt dream-like as I would pile on the layers, grab a hot beverage, and take a stroll with my pup. But now, each day when I wake up it takes longer for the sun to appear, and each day when I go home the sky is grey and becomes dark so quickly. My energy is depleted, small tasks seem absolutely monstrous, truthfully I can’t make it through the day without a nap, and my motivation has disappeared just as quickly as the warm weather.
I am singing the winter blues. It’s a song that plays around the same time each year, and though it is very unwelcomed, it lingers around for months. That song is titled Seasonal Affective Disorder.
While it’s estimated that 6% of the population is diagnosed with severe SAD, another 15% will experience symptoms, and let’s be realistic – a change in weather can affect just about anyone. Less sunlight will change the internal clock of the body, and also drop serotonin and melatonin levels which keep our mood and sleep patterns in check. You might experience a change in appetite, weight gain, over sleeping, low energy, anxiety, or even an increased intake of toxic substances such as alcohol or smoking.
If you are someone who sings the winter blues, there are steps you can take to be proactive and change the tune of the coming season.
1 – Brighten up your environment: Make your space a little brighter by opening up the curtains during the day, even if it’s a little overcast outside. If the grey weather really gets you down, you might consider investing in a Light Therapy Light Box. They mimic natural light, and you can definitely find one that won’t break the bank. You also might want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement during these next few months, but please consult with your doctor before doing so.
2 – Wake up with the sun: If you can begin to get up with the sun, you will have more daylight hours in your day. Sleeping in hours past sunrise will only bring you closer to sundown. Try setting your alarm for day break, or even shortly after to feel the all-day effects of natural light.
3 – Take care of your mind and body: Often times when we are tired, it is easy to skip the gym, opt for fast food, and maybe even sleep in. Exercise when you can, meditate, go to a yoga class, or just take part in an activity you enjoy, whether that is playing guitar, painting, or play time with a pet. Take the time to nurture yourself.
Most importantly, I encourage you to be open, honest, and talk about your feelings. It is okay to feel tired, it is okay to feel anxious, or agitated. It is all okay. Just talk about it. Holding it in will only make for a longer winter. Shout it from the rooftops, and perhaps the winter blues won’t be the song you’re singing anymore.