Updated: Feb 16
It can be hard enough dealing with winter weather when out on the road. But with the addition of shorter days and longer nights, wintertime can cause trouble with your health as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that affects around 10-20% of Americans during the winter months.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Usually symptoms are similar to those of depression, and can include:
Fatigue and low-energy
Withdrawal from social activities, or normal routines
Causes of SAD
Due to the lack of sunlight, there is a dip in serotonin – the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, memory, libido, and sleep. Genetics can play a factor as well if there is a family history of mood disorders, and women tend to be affected more than men.
Luckily there are plenty of easy ways to beat seasonal affective disorder. If you know that you have a tendency to get down in the dumps during this time of year, take a preventative approach. You prep your truck, garden, or house for seasonal changes, so why not your body too?
Coping with the Winter Blues
Get some natural light.
One of the simplest ways to cheer up is to get as much sunlight as possible. Whether it’s being sure to open your blinds in the morning, or just getting out and going for a walk, getting those natural rays of sunlight will help boost your mood.
Exercise for positive vibes.
Not only can doing a quick workout help with depression, but it also boosts endorphins. These endorphins give you a natural high that will keep your spirits lifted, and also maintain good health. Here are some great workouts to do around your truck.
There are some great healthy snack ideas out there that will keep you going through the colder months. Cutting back on sugar can help too, since it has been linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Having a well-rounded and healthy diet will keep you going with a more sustained energy burn, rather than the quick boost (then crash) you get from sugars and carbohydrates. Be sure you’re getting good amounts of protein and fiber, and lots of vegetables.
Keep your routine.
Don’t get rid of your regular habits just because the cold weather makes you want to hibernate. If you usually stop to go for a walk, bundle up, and do it! If you have meetings or gatherings to attend, go to them. You’ll feel better maintaining those hobbies and be happier in the long run.
Along those same lines, bundle up, and get some fresh air. Don’t just roll down the window, but really get out and enjoy the crisp winter air. A walk will boost your spirits, and it will feel good to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. You could even find a nearby ice skating rink, or find your inner child at the nearest sledding hill. Getting outside will also get you more sunlight and boost serotonin!
Breathe and relax.
Reducing your stress and learning how to meditate will really help with depression and anxiety. Try just sitting quietly with your eyes closed, and taking some deep breaths. Count to five with each inhale, and five with each exhale. Do this for 5 minutes each day. Try some basic yoga stretches to go even further!
Take a break.
Taking a vacation means taking time for yourself, which is excellent for mental health. Try taking time off when freight has lulled (in January and February), then make the most of the busier months when you get back. Remember not to depend on a vacation to be the ultimate pick-me-up since it’s the more expensive option. If you haven’t given yourself a break in a while though, it’s important to turn off work from time to time and recharge.
Although this time of year can be difficult, it can also be a great opportunity to get back on track with your health and wellness. The cold winter months may make us feel like hibernating, but focusing on staying positive will improve mood and sustain health well into spring!
Sources: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/neurological_institute/center-for-behavorial-health/disease-conditions/hic-seasonal-depression http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/06/seasonal-affective-disorder_n_6255780.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063 Image Source 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paszczak000/ Image Source 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hrobertsson/