Once the holidays are over, reality sets in—there really are at least two more months of cold weather and early sunsets to contend with before spring arrives. Science has shown that the “winter blues” are a real phenomenon; colder weather, shorter days, and less time spent outdoors in the fresh air can impact your mood and energy levels.
But even in the dead of winter, there are things you can do to boost your mood and counteract the effects of the season. The memory care professionals at Belleview Heights Assisted Living and Memory Care in Aurora, Colorado, are experts at keeping their residents happy during the dreary winter months. Next time you’re feeling a little down this winter, try these tips from Belleview Heights:
Bright light, especially sunlight, increases the levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin in your system. If the cold is bearable where you live, bundle up and take a short walk outside on a sunny day. Breathing fresh air and exposing your body to the bright light should boost your mood quickly.
If it is simply too cold to head outside, you can instead sit next to a bright window to get the benefits of sun exposure. That way, you can enjoy the warmth of the indoors while absorbing the beautiful sunlight. Choose a favorite TV show, a hobby, or a good book to enjoy while you sit, as you’ll likely see the greatest benefits after thirty minutes or more.
If your environment is too gray and cloudy and the sun never peeks into your window, you can try using a sun lamp—a small, extremely bright light that is specially created to emit light as close as possible to sunlight, approximating natural sun exposure. Thirty minutes of exposure to a sun lamp can have the same effects as sitting near a bright, sunlit window.
Our skin naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. But in the winter months, when days are shorter and the weather keeps us from going outside, we can run low on this necessary vitamin. That’s not a good thing, as studies have shown that vitamin D may play a role in preventing disease and warding off depression, particularly seasonal depression.
Luckily, vitamin D supplements are readily available to replace the vitamin D we aren’t able to generate during winter’s cold, dark days. Check with your doctor about whether you need a Vitamin D supplement, and where to find a suitable one.
It is no secret that exercise helps the brain produce endorphins, chemicals that act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger feelings of happiness.
Regular exercise has been proven to ward off depression, relax the body, improve sleep, and boost self-esteem. All of those effects can combat the winter blues.
If you normally get your exercise outdoors and the winter weather has foiled your plans, switch to some indoor activities to get your body moving until you’re able to head outdoors again.
You may have noticed that you feel as if you need to sleep more in the wintertime. You’re not imagining it—there are biological reasons why you may need some extra sleep in the winter.
First, the shorter daylight hours affect your internal circadian clock, which tells your body when to sleep and when to wake up. Because the sun sets earlier in the winter, your internal clock sends the signal that it’s time to go to bed much earlier in the winter than in the summer. Second, your body requires more energy to maintain its internal temperature and regular functions in the winter. That translates to extra calories burned and feeling like you need some extra shut-eye.
Don’t fight the feeling! Trying to maintain your regular sleep schedule even when your body is crying out for more sleep will make you cranky throughout the day, and it will only make your energy levels dip further. To beat the winter blues, treat yourself to some extra sleep.
To learn more about residency or to schedule a tour of Belleview Heights, contact our friendly team today.