Winter is well and truly here, and as welcome as the rain is, do you ever get the feeling the weather plays a huge part in contributing to your mood? We have all heard of the term ‘winter blues’ but did you know this is a real thing!
Research suggests that a lack of sunlight can make us feel down, cold temperatures can lead to lethargy and that rain can cause us to eat more!
beyondblue’s Lead Clinical Adviser Grant Blashki says the main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly.
‘Lack of sunlight can mean our bodies produce less melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it’s time for sleep. Less sun could also mean less serotonin, a hormone that affects mood, appetite and sleep,’ Mr Blashki said.
So how can we stay whole-body healthy during winter and not let the winter blues get us down? The answer is simple – sunlight, movement and people!
Let the light in or get outdoors
As you read above, exposure to sunlight plays an important role in influencing our moods. Make the most of the sun shining in winter by heading outside when you see the sun or opening the curtains to invite the sunshine into your house. As tempting as it is, it’s important not to just sit inside on the couch and binge on Netflix and your favourite food.
Keep moving, as much as you can!
Keeping active is also very important for beating the winter blues. Getting moving in winter can be difficult, but even small amounts of exercise is better than nothing. Moderate exercise for 15 minutes is enough to release endorphins, our natural feel good hormones. Rug up with a decent coat, beanie and gloves and get outside for a brisk walk with the dog, a bike ride or a trip to the playground with the kids.
Socialise with family and friends
The last thing to keep in mind to beat the winter blues is continuing to make an effort to socialise. It can be easy to want to shut in and hibernate over winter, but simply being around other people can make you feel good. Interacting with friends and family is just as important for our moods, as working out at the gym or going for a run. Why not head out to the movies with friends, or have people over for lunch or dinner?
And if the feeling doesn’t go away
If you feel like you can’t seem to shake the winter blues, it’s important to speak to your GP or health care professional. There is a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD that has similar symptoms to depression. Although, this is rare in the southern hemisphere and more likely to be found in countries with shorter days and longer periods of darkness, such as in the cold climate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. SAD is a condition that may require medical treatment so reach out to your GP.
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The information provided in this blog is of a general nature and does not take into account your specific circumstances or medical history. If you are concerned about your health or wellbeing, you should seek the opinion of a medical professional.