Embracing Change - Fend off the Winter Blues

By Heather Molina for Ag for Life

Winter is upon us. As we adjust to this new season, it is important to recognize how you are welcoming or resisting change. Let’s face it, change can sometimes be hard, uncomfortable, and present new challenges. As we move into the winter season, notice how you are responding to the seasonal change. What is coming up for you? Are you grumbling about the snow and having to scrape the ice off your windshield? It is important to notice how you personally respond to the season change and what you can do to empower yourself to shift your mood and make the most out of the winter months.


SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER - DOES THE CHANGE OF SEASON IMPACT YOU?


Winter brings colder temperatures and less day light, and this transition can drastically impact individual’s mood and overall sense of well-being. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition that shows up during certain season changes, particular winter (1). Often referred to as the “winter blues”. Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression characterized by symptoms showing up due to a change in season, which is more commonly experienced during the long cold winter months. SAD impacts both men and women, primarily showing up in adults 18-30 years old (2). It is also reported to more often occur among women (1). Individuals whom already experience anxiety and depression may also be more susceptible and at risk to experiencing seasonal affective disorder.


Symptoms associated with winter seasonal affective disorder are described as (2):


• Oversleeping and feeling sluggish.

• Overeating and craving carbohydrates.

• Social withdrawal.

• Consistent sad and depressive mood.


The change in season is known to disrupt levels of melatonin, which correlates with a person’s sleep patterns and mood (2). Melatonin and serotonin are hormones secreted to help maintain the body’s natural rhythm. Serotonin is the key hormone responsible for stabilizing mood and feelings of well-being. In people experiencing seasonal affective disorder, there is a decrease in melatonin and serotonin production levels, which disrupts normal daily rhythms (1).


Simple ways to BOOST MOOD


VITAMIN D


Vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter months, with less daylight hours and exposure to sunlight. Individuals whom experience seasonal affective disorder tend to have lower vitamin D levels, causing a decrease in serotonin production (2). Vitamin D plays a vital role in overall health and well-being. Vitamin D is necessary for boosting mood and supporting immunity to prevent infection from viral invaders, during cold and flu season. Consult with a health care practitioner for advice on how to increase Vitamin D levels through diet and supplementation.


ACTS OF KINDNESS - The Joy of giving.

Have you ever experienced a random act of kindness? Perhaps a stranger buying your coffee when going through the drive thru. Acts of kindness are a great way to boost mood and spread joy. Think of creative ways to spread kindness in your community. Pay it forward.


MOVE YOUR MOOD


Movement is medicine. Exercise can help to combat seasonal affective disorder in the winter months. Incorporating moderate exercise into your week can help to dramatically shift your mood, by releasing endorphins. Every little bit counts… get out for a walk, engage in winter yard chores, or join an online exercise class. These are all great options to incorporate movement into your day to day life.


Embracing the changing season can invite a shift in your mood. Take time to move, connect, and care for your health in the coming months. You’re worth it!



References


(1) https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml


(2) https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/are-you-sad-seasonal-depression-is-more-than-just-the-winter-blues

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