Winter can wear on you with the endless cold weather and shorter and shorter days. The holidays are over, and even spring seems to be out in the far distance. Oh, and then there’s a pandemic on top of it all. It’s no surprise this can be the most challenging season of the year to get through.
It’s time to focus on your resolutions for the new year and find a way to pick up your spirits. You might not expect it, but we’re going to turn to one of the unlikeliest sources for a pick me up – science! After all, when it comes to your personal health, it all starts in your mind.
How the Change of Seasons Impacts the Mind
It’s no surprise that the cold temperature overcast skies have an impact on your overall mood. You start to feel lazier each day, letting the blues slip in. Most research shows that the absence of sunlight is a significant factor. This is due to receptors in your eyes that detect the level of light around us. “Melanopsin,” a photopigment found in your eyes, responds to specific types of light indicating when it’s day-time or night-time.
As you’d expect, these neurons are not stimulated enough, impacting your internal clock, also known as the “circadian rhythm.” It gets harder to adjust as we get older. This rhythm naturally becomes less consistent with age, which makes it more challenging to acclimate. This makes us more susceptible to adverse effects such as eating and sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety. Fortunately, there are five simple things science says to add to your daily routine and fight back against the “winter blues”!
1. Avoiding Isolation
It’s easy to isolate yourself when the weather is cold and gloomy, but we all need social interaction. Isolation can increase your risk factor of anxiety, depression, and dementia. Simply if you’re making a phone call to talk to a friend or loved one, you’ll still benefit from the interaction.
2. Make Exercise a Priority
Exercising during the day promotes restful sleep at night. You should designate time each day to exercise and get outside in the sunlight if possible. When you can’t get out, look too static and dynamic stretching exercises that you can do inside. Exercise and sunlight will also improve your mood as well as relieve tension and stress.
3. Regular Sleep
Your natural sleep cycle depends on light to inform us when to start the day or end the day. With less sunlight in the winter, your system triggers you to sleep more often. When you get too much or too little sleep, it can negatively impact your health. Oddly enough, more sleep when we get older helps your body fight diseases. Here are a few ways you can help create good habits to avoid problems.
Implementing a regular schedule for sleep and exposure to light. You need to train your body to go to bed and get up at the same time every day of the week (yes, including weekends). Make sure you get plenty of sunlight in the early part of the day. This will help remind your system it’s daytime and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drinking herbal teas in the winter months will help you stay hydrated. When the weather is cold, your body gets dehydrated, which can affect your ability to concentrate. Herbal teas will also help you relieve tension and stress. It can also enhance your mood.
Don’t let the winter blues creep in. Follow these guidelines to keep a healthy body and mind.