Does Winter Affect Our Mood?
Many poets and writers use weather as a metaphor for a person’s emotions. The link is very apt as there indeed exists a connection between the weather and your mood. Dark, cold days seem to upset us for no reason while bright sunny days make us feel cheerful. Have you ever wondered how does the weather really affect people’s moods? It seems like the onset of cold days seem to envelop one in winter blues that are hard to shake off. Let’s explore the connection between winter and its impact on your mood in greater detail.
Why Does the Cold Weather Affect Your Mood?
Winter months, Credit: Pixabay
When the nights become long and colder, we gradually shift our daily routines in order to match the season change. Winter heralds a time period where we feel like staying within the comfort of our own bed. For some people, this weather is defined by the need to stay under the covers for more extended periods. It is also accompanied by feelings of mild depression like sadness, despair, and hopelessness. This phenomenon is known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
The most commonly experienced seasonal affective disorder symptoms are feeling depressed and irritable, irregular sleep patterns, anxiety, appetite and weight changes, unexplained body aches, and feeling tired all the time.
Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Linked to Your Hormones?
chemical structure of a hormone, Credit: Pixabay
According to recent researches, when you’re exposed to very less sunlight, it can trigger certain chemical imbalances in the neurotransmitters, which are the brain’s chemicals. These neurotransmitters are responsible for affecting your mood.
The chief hormone responsible for balancing your mood is serotonin. A study conducted into finding more about the onset of SAD found that during the winter months, those who suffered from this condition had low serotonin levels. It was the main factor behind the feelings of depression that such people often experienced during winter.
A protein called SERT is responsible for transporting serotonin for mood regulation. The higher levels of SERT is linked to low levels of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin is what is responsible for consistent feelings of sadness.
People who are experiencing SAD have 5% more levels of SERT than those who don’t. This higher activity of SERT is more likely to occur during winter than summer. It explains the mood swings that people experience in the winter.
However, a point to note is that SAD isn’t linked only with winter. Sometimes, it is also experienced during summer months when the body tries to adapt itself to the high heat and humid atmosphere.
How Can I Improve My Winter Mood?
Sunlight in a garden, Credit: Pixabay
SAD is temporary. You can come out of it slowly. There are some ways by which you can start to feel better and enjoy yourself even during the winter months.
Step out into the sunlight. Open the windows of your room to let the warmth of the bright sun rays enter into your room. You will instantly feel invigorated.
Maintain your exercise routine. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins which will greatly assist you in improving your mood.
Maintain a good sleeping hygiene. Taking adequate rest will help you to wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Consume a healthy diet and stay away from high sugar food. They will only make you feel more lethargic, adding to your depressed state of mind.
Just because SAD is temporary does not mean that you should do nothing about your symptoms. If you feel like the feelings of despair and sadness are becoming unbearable, it is best to reach out for medical assistance. If you will ignore it for long, chances are, that your SAD can turn into depression of a severe kind.