Sunday, July 12, 2020

Tips and tricks to beat the “Winter Blues”

The stifling heat has already started to fade in preparation for the much dreaded winter season. Chilly winds have begun piercing through our light summer clothing while the sun is setting earlier than usual. Grey skies with little or no sunshine are becoming regular; a tell-tale sign that the winter season is creeping in. Most people associate winter with dull colours, rampant cases of the common cold and over-layered outfits, which causes some people to suffer from the occasional case of ‘winter blues’.

The weather and seasonal changes have an effect on people, and some of those implications can prove to be troubling. The winter gloom in its extremity does not fade away, it is a real condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which ironically produces the acronym ‘SAD’ and can lead to depression, lack of energy, insomnia and inflict behavioural moodiness.

While it is still a mystery scientists have not figured out yet, there are a few things one can employ in order to overcome the stiff gloominess of winter. For starters, do not change sleep patterns. Waking up at similar hours as that of summer or other seasons warrants that your body’s internal clock does not have to battle the discomfort of adjusting to new patterns. With winter, you are often tempted to hit that snooze button for extra minutes of slumber. The tendency to oversleep has no leverage over you if you are consistent with your sleeping pattern. According to research, seasonal affective disorder triggers oversleeping hence starting your day at a similar time can help shake off its blues.

Wearing bright clothes is another useful tip that helps to lighten up that bland winter indifference and its grey dull skies. Letting the weather dictate your wardrobe can be more depressing than the weather itself. In 1999, researchers at Creighton University found that colours significantly influence employees’ emotions and efficiency. Bright colours are known to reduce anxiety and bring about cheerfulness while dull colours make people to be passive and uninvolved. If your workplace is strict with dress codes, compensate by making your weekend outfits colour fitting.

It is also important that you watch what you eat. Cold weather generally influences people to eat more than they should and gaining unwanted weight may add to your already somber mood. You should also eat food that helps strengthen your immune system rather than what could probably make you susceptible to illnesses common during winter such as colds and flu.

The third trick to beat the winter blues is to constantly exercise. Studies show that exercising reduces stress, boosts brain performance and releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. It’s an exciting way of busting any bad mood that creeps in and it ensures optimum health too. There are many forms of exercise. You can choose the one that best fits your schedule and one you can be committed to.

According to Alfred Lewy, a medical doctor who has researched on SAD, one of the major causes of this disorder is not enough exposure to the sun. “The most important time to get light is in the morning,” he said in an article about seasonal affective disorder. A deficiency in vitamin D which the sun is its greatest source can cause depressive moods and low energy levels. It’s ideal to squeeze in some time for sun basking, particularly if your office does not expose you to any natural light.

Just because the winter season is here doesn’t mean your entertainment should seize. Be innovative and find some exciting activities that can take your mind off a stressful week at work or school. This will surely improve your mood. If you decide to venture on some outdoor fun, make sure you keep warm. Relaxation always keeps depression at bay.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.