Winning the battle with the February "blahs"3 min readReading Time: 3 minutesAre these grey February days leaving you feeling S.A.D.? You’re not alone! Three months of cooler temperatures and shorter days affect many people across the northern hemisphere. But there’s a bright light on the horizon: we have some simple and easy-to-understand solutions ranging from the benefits of vitamin D to the importance of reducing the effects of recirculated air (and particles within it). These tips will help you banish the “blahs” and get back to your happy warm-weather mindset.
It has been scientifically documented that the winter months can have an effect on one’s overall level of personal satisfaction. This ranges from not feeling at the top of your game or having as much fun as you may during the warmer months to a diagnosed form of seasonal depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., has been documented to affect over 9% of the population in parts of the northern hemisphere, and milder symptoms can be found in a larger percentage of the population.
The most important thing to note is that S.A.D. doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with those who suffer from it, but simply indicates that this portion of the population is more sensitive to certain environmental stimuli. Humans, like many other species on the planet, have different habits for eating, sleeping and overall activity throughout the winter. One extreme example is hibernation, and it has been said that S.A.D. is an “evolved adaptation” that is the result of a scarcity of available food for our early ancestors during the winter months.
Do you think there is some correlation between the aforementioned adaptation and the natural craving for “comfort food” or hearty and filling meals during the winter months?
The primary cause of S.A.D. is a lack of exposure to sunlight, which almost everyone craves at this time of year. Other triggers are a decrease in exposure to negative ions, reduced exercise and an increase in sleep. If you find yourself less motivated, tired, lethargic and generally a little more, well, sad during the winter, chances are some of these stimuli are having an effect on you even if you aren’t suffering from S.A.D.
When you look up S.A.D. online or in a household guide to living healthy (or another similar publication), it is likely that you will see a list of daunting clinical solutions. The key fact to remember though is that there are some simple and natural things you can do during the winter to combat the February “blahs” and rejuvenate yourself during the winter months.
Here are our top five:
- Take vitamin D supplements. Our vitamin D levels are naturally driven by exposure to ultraviolet B on our skin, which is diminished during the winter.
- Purchase a sun light. Exposure to 10 minutes of synthetic sunlight each morning is supposed to have a very positive effect (this is the primary natural treatment for S.A.D).
- Get regular exercise. For some this means going to the gym, and for others it may mean getting out for a leisurely walk. Whatever your fitness level, a little bit of appropriate exercise each day can make a big difference.
- Get a minimum of five minutes of fresh air at the beginning of your day (especially when the snow is falling). Combine this with your exercise or make it part of your commute.
- Start your day with a decent breakfast as close to the time you wake in the morning as possible. It can be something simple like a piece of fruit or some yogurt, but it will trigger your body to begin using calories to increase energy rather than storing them to help get you through the winter.