Liven Your Spirit (even with the cold weather)
February 16, 2015
Are you often sad during the winter? People have talked about those blues since before the Civil War. But in the last 30 years, doctors have officially recognized the winter blues as a named, medical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The good news is that you can beat it.
Decreased sunlight during the winter is the main reason why people develop SAD, because less daylight can disrupt our circadian rhythm, also known as our body clock. Melatonin, a hormone which makes us feel tired, is triggered by darkness and reaches its highest levels at night. Some people also have increased melatonin levels during the day. On the opposite side, the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is triggered by sunlight, makes us feel happy. But people with SAD have low levels of serotonin.
Light therapy is a very effective treatment and involves sitting in front of a specialized light box for 30 minutes a day. The box needs to have a power of 10,000 lux, which is more than 20 times stronger than the average light bulb.
Although it's tempting for people with SAD to reach for their comforter, they should reach for their gym bag instead. Exercise is another great tool for fighting the effects of SAD. A cardiovascular workout pumps oxygen into the brain, making us alert and energetic. Exercise also releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that create a feeling of euphoria.
So if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a few lifestyle changes can help you enjoy winter. And Spring will be here before you know it!
In addition to these great tips, we invite you to stop by and join us for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to warm you up. Grab a book from our library, attend one of our many upcoming programs, or volunteer on our campus to help you feel good and get rid of the winter blues. Visit our blog page for great reading material and watch our News and Events page for upcoming programs.