Being stuck indoors during the cold, harsh weather of winter months can lead to sleeping in, avoiding social opportunities, and neglecting emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well being. While it is a natural reaction to this season, it doesn’t have to happen. We’ll discuss why it happens and ways to combat it ahead.
Sometimes referred to as “cabin fever,” the winter blues have an actual clinical diagnosis, which is called Seasonal Affective Disorder; oddly enough abbreviated as SAD. Defined as a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light, SAD affects half a million people every winter. Here are some interesting facts about the disorder:
- Three out of four SAD sufferers are women
- The main age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years of age
- SAD occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare in those living within 30 degrees latitude of the equator
- The severity of SAD depends on both a person’s vulnerability to the disorder and his or her geographical location
Symptoms of SAD include depression, anxiety, mood changes, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, social problems, and sexual problems. To combat the winter blues, try these activities.
Wake up earlier. Do this to maximize hours awake during daylight, since many states in America practice daylight savings time and it gets dark much earlier than during the warmer months.
Go outside—even when it’s cold! Even if it’s extremely cold and snowing, make it a point to get outside. Even when lethargy sets in, going outside for even a short walk or to complete a simple task, like shoveling snow, will produce some energy. The sun will still provide vitamin D even when it’s overcast, and getting the heart pumping will increase oxygen to the brain.
Stay in touch with family and friends. Don’t let the cold weather discourage you from going out and being social. Engaging with other people—in real life, not social media—will rejuvenate your senses.
Get some exercise. Taking a short walk doesn’t count, this exercise should make you sweat—hard. Make sure to do this at least 3-5 times per week, and you’ll find your energy, mood, and overall well being will dramatically improve.
As with relapse, people are more at risk of experiencing SAD when they become bored, so make sure to keep busy. If you start feeling down, make it point to get up and get moving, and it will make a difference.
For further help, contact LEAD Recovery today at 800-380-0012.