We all know about the “winter blues.” We’re happier during the summer because we’re soaking up all of that vitamin D, but when winter comes around and vitamin D is diminished, many people feel a dip in their moods. Each season, subtle variations in weather actually have an effect on our mood and emotions, both in positive and negative ways. The more aware you are of these effects, the more control you have over your own situation giving you more opportunities for changes to help yourself.
Moods Change with the Seasons
Starting with the positive attributes of weather, sunlight does way more for you than just helping your tan, your moods are enhanced too! Vitamin D and sunlight actually increase your production of serotonin which, as most of you probably know, is the hormone responsible for your happiness. As a result, the way you interact with the world tends to be more positive. Studies have shown that during sunny days, people are more open to romantic endeavors, they tend to be more helpful and (businesses will be glad to hear) they tend to spend more money. Unfortunately, even the sunlight has negative points as well. Primarily that warmer weather does tend to bring out peoples more aggressive nature, causing us to be, quite literally, hot headed.
On rainy days and during the winter months, depression tends to rear it’s ugly head. Along with that, physical activity tends to take a dive and not just because we don’t want to go outside as much. Colder weather affects our muscles by causing them to tighten and feel more sluggish as a result. Rain can cause actual pain in our bodies as our muscles and joints adjust to the colder temperatures and the pressure changes in the atmosphere. On top of all of this, colder days lead us to eat more than we would during the warmer days. Maybe it’s our evolutionary way of surviving the wintry months, but the result can lead to negative feelings about your body image which, in turn, only increases your chance of depression and lower mood swings.
Blasé days and moments of depression may not stand out at first, but as the weeks go on and those days increase, they can become a serious issue for many. Luckily, there are ways to combat the weather’s effects and try to stay happy and positive. For some, buying a solar simulator may do the trick. Basically it acts as your source of sunlight during the darker seasons and tricks your body into producing higher levels of serotonin. Countries like those in the Netherlands that experience drastically shorter daylight hours during winter use these all the time to keep their mood up!
Gloomy Skies Can Spell Gloomy Moods, Don’t Let Depression Win
Pushing past the tendency towards sluggish days and getting yourself to the gym is another great way to keep your energy levels high. Even if it’s below zero and snowing outside, the gym will (hopefully) be heated and full of active bodies encouraging you to get moving too. If you’re into winter sports, skiing and snowboarding are always wonderful, but only if you’re lucky enough to have easy access to the mountains. (Thank you Colorado!) One family trip during the season may help temporarily, but won’t be enough to carry you through the season.
Choosing the right foods during the winter can also do wonders for your mood. Focusing on fruits and vegetables and not depending on carbs is actually the best way to keep your body and mind healthy during the winter. Yes, fruits and veggies are always great but during the colder days they have even more benefits and can be the tipping point between a great and less great day. In addition, chocolate is also a recommended treat to help boost your serotonin. Like sunlight, chocolate triggers a part in our brains that releases more of the happy hormone and can help keep a smile on your face.
Mental health is still something many psychologists are fighting to understand better. We are constantly discovering new facts and details about the mind that help us to comprehend ourselves better. Sometimes you may suffer from chronic depression but other times it may just be Mother Nature playing with your emotions. Understanding the difference between the two can be incredibly helpful and assist you in ways to manage yourself on a more day-to-day basis and finding a healthy balance for your mind and body.
Seeing a therapist can balance out all of the physical and mental well being activities that you pursue. I welcome anyone to see if we’re a fit for each other. I promise it’s not awkward, and you can schedule online. It’s easy to start. Just click here to pick your own day and time based on your schedule. I look forward to hearing from you. If you liked this article, please share or feel free to contact me here.