TWIN FALLS • Having a hard time shrugging off those winter blues? You’re not alone.
Cold temperatures and fewer daylight hours usually result in spending more time indoors. This change in schedule can have an impact on people’s moods and energy levels.
Called seasonal affective disorder, the average age of the onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years old, according to Mental Health America. Women comprise three of every four people who suffer from SAD.
Symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, depression, sudden weight gain, loss of energy, over sleeping, social withdrawal and more, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.
However, beating the winter blues doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Identifying the signs as early as possible can make the winter more bearable and not something to dread.
Here are a few tips to keep from feeling too down for the remaining winter months.
Pay Attention to Nutrition
If a person has SAD, it’s best to eat a lot of dark greens, said Eric Jones, a psychologist in Twin Falls.
Foods like broccoli, dark leafy greens and beet greens contain phytochemicals that can help fight fatigue and boost your mood. Spinach is rich in B vitamins and folic acid, which can also help people with depression.
Get Enough Exercise
If you can get 30 minutes of activity several times a week, it will help your body produce more feel-good hormones, Jones said.
“You can do this at home, or maybe it’s time to get involved with the gym,” he said.
Invest in Sunlight
Sitting by a window while the sun shines will help boost your vitamin D levels and your overall health, Jones said.
Not working? Try light therapy, also called phototherapy, because of the similarity of photosynthesis found in plants.
Specialized light fixtures are designed to expose individuals to bright light that mimics outdoor light. It can cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood, Jones said.
Go to Sleep
“Our culture is sleep deprived,” Jones said. “Sleep deprivation is leading to more mental health disorders.”
Cramming technology and electronics into every minute of our day can make it difficult for our brains to shut off, Jones said.
Getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can charge the body’s system and improve overall health.