Well, it’s officially winter. The holidays are over, your visiting friends and relatives have gone home, and now it’s time for you to get back into the swing of work. But it’s so overcast and cold outside, all you can think about today is when you get to clean out your DVR and binge watch Netflix.
You are not alone.
According to Psychology Today, more than 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and most of them suffer during the winter months. On top of that, 10 to 20 percent of Americans have a mild form of SAD.
People with SAD tend to oversleep, crave sweet or starchy foods, have a drop in energy level, have difficulty concentrating and avoid social situations, among other things. And the only cure seems to be waiting it out until the spring.
But your business can’t take that kind of break, so what do you do?
Many people believe that a common cause of SAD is simply a lack of sunlight. The nights are longer and the days are shorter and your body just wants to go into hibernation mode.
Simulate that sunlight with a lightbox. You can buy a 10,000 lux lamp, like this one here, on Amazon. The light is about 100 times brighter than your average indoor lighting, so don’t spend all day in front of it, but a little every day can help. Researchers say spending 30 to 60 minutes a day should be enough to combat SAD.
If you’re wondering why light therapy works, our friends at Harvard Medical School think they have the answer: “Bright light works by stimulating cells in the retina that connect to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps control circadian rhythms. Activating the hypothalamus at a certain time every day can restore a normal circadian rhythm and thus banish seasonal symptoms.”
Part of the reason the sun is so important is that it helps your body produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is beneficial to your body because it helps lower your blood pressure and improve your brain function, among other things.
Fake lights don’t trick your body into producing more vitamin D, so during the winter, doctors suggest taking supplements to help make up for the lack of production.
This is one of those year-round things, but it’s especially helpful in the winter. The Mayo Clinic expounds on the benefits of exercise, but what you need to know is that exercise boosts your energy, improves your mood, and helps you sleep better.
Get Some Fresh Air
Usually, when you go outside to get some fresh air, you’re going for a walk or playing a quick game of driveway hoops. Both are great for battling those winter blues. Studies have found that fresh air often helps improve your blood pressure and heart rate and strengthens your immune system.
In other words, you feel healthier. When you feel healthier, you’re less likely to be depressed.
Talk to a Professional
If the winter blues are truly something that you can’t shake, then there is no shame in finding someone to talk to. Speaking to a professional is a great way to help you deal with your feelings no matter what time of year.
And for some tips on keeping healthy during the winter, be sure to check out this previous blog post.
Written by Erika Towne