Ain’t No Sunshine..

13 12 2012
Pete Kadushin

Pete Kadushin

Have you found yourself feeling a little more tired as our days have gotten shorter and our nights have gotten colder?  Do you find that you have a desire to eat more comfort foods, or that it’s harder to get moving and keep moving without warm weather and sunshine? You are not alone.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes.  More specifically, it is often connected to the shorter days of winter and a lack of exposure to sunlight.  Although the majority of people do not experience overwhelming depressive symptoms, experiencing some of the following throughout the winter months is not uncommon.

Some of the symptoms of SAD include:

  • Feeling sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious
  • Losing interest in usual activities
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the daytime

While this means that eating well and getting to the gym can become even more difficult without the sun shining and warm weather, there is a silver lining!

Light Therapy

Even in perpetually cloudy West Virginia, we still have a few rays of sunshine that can make it through.  When you see the sun, get out and let your body recharge.  The sunlight reacts with your body in a way that helps produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and the hormone that might play a major role in SAD-related symptoms.  Additionally, if you find your symptoms to be particularly overwhelming, you can speak with your primary care doctor about light therapy.  30 minutes to an hour a day in front of a special lamp (these lights are made specifically for SAD, and usually have a brightness rating of 10,000 lux) may help alleviate symptoms of SAD as well.

Get Moving

One of the best ways to fight back against fatigue and lowered mood is to get your body moving.  Especially when we don’t feel like we have the energy to exercise, getting a dose of physical activity may help elevate our mood and put some much needed energy back in the gas tank.  Experts suggest that exercising in the morning may have the most impact on SAD-related symptoms, as it can jump-start you for the rest of the day.  And for a particularly effective dose of physical activity, try getting outside to exercise so you can get some sun therapy too!

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