I live in Norway which is in the Northern hemisphere, and depending upon where in the country you live, you may not see sunlight at all from November and until around Easter!
Luckily, I live in Oslo and we do get a few hours of daylight, but not nearly enough to keep the body happy and healthy. Because of the lack of daylight a lot of Norwegians suffer from what is known as winter depression.
The condition does not only affect Scandinavians, but millions of people around the globe. Perhaps you also suffer from winter depression when the days get shorter?
The symptoms are:
- Low energy
- Loss of interest in being social or active
- Muscle and joint ache
- Feelings of hopelessness and general depression symptoms
- Weight gain and increased appetite
- Decreased libido
The condition is also known as “seasonal affective disorder,”( SAD) and can really reduce the quality of life. I use to suffer really bad from it and went into a severe depression for several months. When Spring came along the darkness literally went away.
Because of my own need to find a way to cope, I have discovered and researched ways you can naturally lift your mood and help get you through the darkness…
- Light therapy! Yes, lack of light is the reason you feel this way as it leads to chemical imbalances in the body. But there are some really great therapy alternatives out there that mimic daylight. I work with a small lamp from Philips in front of me when working on my computer. I also do 10 minutes of light therapy with a special iPod looking device called Valkee Bright Light Headset. This releases light straight into the brain. Light therapy is a must!
- HIIT Workouts- You must stay active even if your energy levels are low. I promise that if you do, you will eventually increase your energy levels. This is so important. HIIT stands for High intensity interval training and is more effect full than steady state, low intensity training, as it releases more of the “happy hormones”, serotonin and dopamine. This keeps depression at bay, gives you more energy, builds stamina and balances your weight and appetite efficiently.
- Learn something new! This fall I have been learning to dance salsa and it has really helped my mood to have an activity that gets me out the door (because I have paid a lot of money for it!;)), is social, healthy and keeps my brain active. Having a hobby and learning new things that we enjoy is proven to keep us more mentally balanced.
- Keep a balanced diet– It is more important than ever that you keep your diet clean and full of fresh fruits and vegetables even though it may not be that tempting this time of year! Use seasonal vegetables and cook warming stews. Roast root vegetables. A good diet is essential for keeping your moods elevated in general and keeps your immune system strong through the winter season. Make my roasted tomato soup here
- Get outdoors! If you live in a place where there still is daylight during the day it is important to arrange your schedule so that you can get outdoors for at least 30 min. every day. Take a walk during your lunch break if possible.
Let me know how the season effects you and how you cope! 🙂