S.A.D.– How the Weather Might Bring You Down
I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been tired, grumpy, and just not myself.
As a scientist, I started questioning everything. Every little aspect of my life. Is it sleep? Is it my diet? Is it Work? Or is it even something I can quantify?
The funny thing is that the answer was right in front of me all along.
S.A.D. — Seasonal Affective Disorder
I knew what SAD was, I mean we’ve all heard of it, right?
But once I started looking into it, I felt like I was back on WebMD convincing myself my common cold was the first sign of an early demise.
The symptoms are ones we have all experienced:
- A lack of light can lower serotonin levels.
A known mood-booster in the body, serotonin helps us stay happy.
- Lack of sunlight makes us eat more.
That drop in serotonin means our bodies are on the hunt for more. And a great source of the stuff is carbohydrates, so we find ourselves stuffing our faces to make up for that loss. Holiday weight gain anyone?
- Cold temperatures can make you feel lazy.
When the mercury drops so does our blood flow and affects a whole array of senses and functions.
- An incoming storm can cause pain.
Your older relatives weren’t making this up. As the atmospheric pressure drops, blood flows from vessels to tissues and the increased pressure on joints and nerves can cause pain and stiffness!
- Staying indoors can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
More and more studies show that physical activity correlates to mental health and well being. So avoiding the cold and rain or snow, might not be the best solution.
What Can We Do
I know this is a lot to take in, but there is a cure. Or at least something to help you feel better.
- Increase serotonin.
Fun fact, indoor lighting can trick your body into producing serotonin. Not quite as much as it would out in the sun, but any bit is a good start!
Likewise starchy vegetables can take the place of that heavy pasta or sugary treat. And you don’t feel guilty about it after!
- Battle the cold.
There is nothing wrong with throwing on a few extra layers to ease the pain of crawling out of bed after those long, cold winter nights.
If the cold weather means you are missing your needed workout routine, take some extra time to warm up. A longer warm up might cut into the workout itself, but if it gets you outside or to the gym, it’s better than nothing!
- Pain in the rain.
If it’s an incoming storm that has you aching, try yoga. I know it sounds kooky for some of you– but the moves in yoga help stretch muscles and increase blood flow thus moving excess fluid from swollen tissue!
It really works!
- Get Outside!
Fresh air does wonders. Studies show that it’s not actually the cold of winter that causes illness but the stagnant air trapped indoors. It’s like we are going from airplane to airplane all winter long, breathing and sharing germs with our closest friends and family.
Throw on the layers, brave the rain, whatever it is that will get you outside– do it! Studies show that this could be one of the most effective ways to battle the symptoms of S.A.D.
I Will if You Do
As for me, a walk around town the other day helped me turn the corner. [Pun intended]
After using the excuse of clouds and rain and ice and snow and cold and anything else I could think of, when I finally made it outside my world was transformed.
My motivator? A little dancing to get my body moving and warmed up.
We all have our guilty pleasure songs, and dance moves we wouldn’t dare show the public– so put the phone down and bust a move!
A buddy system is always a good motivator. Find a friend and keep each other motivated!
Start small and work your way up. After all temperatures are on the rise and before we know it spring will be here!
For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo