So It’s Now Winter!

Posted by Beth Hartman

At least it became metrological winter on December 1st. The real first day of the winter solstice begins on Wednesday, December 21st.

It’s during this time of year that some people experience increased bouts of moodiness, possibly even depression. There is even a name for this type of affliction, it’s called "Seasonal Affective Disorder", or SAD. Or as we usually refer to it in layman’s terms as the “Winter Blues”.
SAD is a form of depression that temporarily affects people during the winter months but tends to go away during the spring and summer months as the days begin to lengthen again.

People suffering from SAD can feel moody or grumpy, lose motivation for activities they would normally enjoy doing and may sleep more but still feel tired. They also crave more carbohydrates — think comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza (can’t really fault them for wanting pizza, but again in moderation), along with pasta and bread. In addition, people who already are suffering from depression may experience a marked increase in their symptoms.

Let’s face it, this time of year the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder and snow may soon be on its way. It’s the time of year when many people leave for work before the sun rises and return home after it sets, leaving little time for activities in the daylight. No wonder we start feeling moody and sluggish. We all need that intense sunshine to motivate us and give us a bright outlook on our lives and surroundings.

Now, you can sit back on your couch or favorite recliner and watch reruns of your favorite movies. Or, you can get yourself up and moving. Doctors recommend that at this time of year, getting your body moving and subjecting it to some intermediate exercise is one of the best ways you can combat those winter time blues. Short of getting on a plane and traveling to some sunny beach in the lower hemisphere, that is!

It may be cold outside, but getting out of your house or office can help you shake the blues. Try taking a walk during your lunch hour or spending time outside on the weekends to expose your body to more natural light, go on and soak up those winter rays, they may not be as intense, but if there is snow on the ground, it amplifies the rays and is good for you, but don’t forget the sunscreen! Remember, exercise is just about the best thing you can for yourself at this time of year and at any time. Elevating your heart rate with a brisk walk, bike, run, swim or other workouts, can help you shake any feelings of moodiness. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins that can boost your mood. Now we all know this so why do we procrastinate about it?

Remember that activity watch or monitor you received last Christmas. The goal was to get yourself in great shape for the New Year, well, don’t use the “It's Too Cold Outside” to NOT get yourself moving. Get back on a schedule and use this winter weather as an incentive to embrace the season and start racking up the miles. And since we are writing this before December 24th, if you don’t have an Activity Watch  or at least a Pedometer, it’s not too late to put it on your list, or maybe your significant other’s list.

So, now that you know that the “Winter Blues” are an actual seasonal disorder, you can take the necessary steps to give your outlook on things the boost you need. Another thing, on New Year’s Eve, when everyone is talking about the resolutions they are making for 2017, you can say you're already on track. Since your turning the “Winter Blues” into Winter Fun!

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