Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: January 2017 - Beat the Winter Blues

    January 18, 2017

    The holidays are over. The days are short and the nights long. It’s hard to wake up in the morning. When you are awake, you feel irritable, can’t concentrate, crave junk food and don’t want to be around other people — not even your friends. What’s the problem? You may be experiencing “winter blues”.

    The winter blues is a sense of sadness that is brought on by fewer daylight hours and less sunlight. Sunlight helps your body produce hormones that affect mood, hunger and sleep. Because of the fewer daylight hours, your body sometimes does not make enough of those hormones and you feel the symptoms.

    You can’t make winter days longer, but you can reduce the symptoms of the winter blues.

    • Get as much sun as possible, especially the morning sun. Go outside every day, even if it is cold. Take a walk; go outside during work or school breaks. When you are inside, do as much as you can near a window.
    • Think about using a light box, which your body thinks is natural sunlight. Using a light box for 30 minutes each morning can relieve some of the blues.
    • Keep warm. Being cold can make you depressed. Wear warm clothes and shoes. Drink hot drinks and eat hot food.
    • Balance your cravings for sweets and starches with fruits and veggies. Avoid overeating.
    • Stay active. Keep up a regular exercise routine.
    • Make plans to see family and friends. Do fun things.
    • Be patient: your mood will get better a little at a time. Before you know it, it will be Spring.

    For some people, more physical activity and light is not enough to make you feel better. In that case, you may be experiencing “SAD” (seasonal affective disorder). You may need further treatment. Only a trained clinician can tell the difference. If you have any concerns or questions about how you are feeling, talk to your doctor.

    Sources:
    National Institutes of Health: “Beat the Winter Blues”. https://newinhealth.nih.gov/issue/jan2013/feature1
    WebMD: “Beating Winter’s Woes”. www.webmd.com/depression/features/beating-winters-woes
    Mayo Clinic: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)”. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics
    National Health Service, United Kingdom. “Beating the winter blues”. www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/dealing-with-winter-blues
    West Virginia University, Students Center of Health. “Is It the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder”. http://well.wvu.edu/articles/is_it_the_winter_blues_or_seasonal_affective_disorder


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