How to Anticipate And Deal With Seasonal Ups And Downs
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Seasons affect your physical and mental well-being. You might feel and fare differently in the summer, rainy, or winter seasons. Winter is the season when your body mostly gets deprived of sunlight, and that affects you. Here are some ways that can help you to boost your mood and adjust to the seasonal ups and downs. ~ Ed.
Last month, things were going so well.
You had a good morning routine, you were working on things that really matter to you (writing that book, building that business, raising your kid, etc), and now, things seem so… challenging.
You’re struggling to get the motivation to work on building your dream life, even getting out of bed is difficult, and you’re anxious about damn-near everything.
After all, nothing really changed. Why, one month, did you perceive things as going so well and being so fruitful, but the next month, you perceive those same things as drudgery?
The fact is, life — your ups and downs — are seasonal. Those dips and spikes in your motivation often have very little to do with real tangible changes in your situation and more to do with the seasons.
Let me explain.
Related Read: 11 Top Daily Motivation Tips to Get You Going
Understanding How the Seasons Affect Your Attitude
At first glance, it seems like bupkus — but there’s real scientific evidence that seasonal changes (and even daylight savings time) affect our biology (and thus our attitudes).
In fact, 5% of people experience something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and “Many people feel more tired and less hopeful during the winter months, even when they’re not depressed,” as Psychology Today reports.
Conversely, those same people feel hopeful and energized during the summer months.
Why is that? Are your motivation levels really so flippant as to be directly influenced by temperature or amount of sunlight?
It seems so — WebMD reports on research which found that people’s brains produce more serotonin (a chemical that boosts mood) on sunny days than on overcast or cloudy days. And the longer the sun shined, the more serotonin those people produced (and thus the better they felt).
Typically, winter months bring more overcast; rainy days and summer bring sun. It’s not surprising then, that you’re just now starting to feel less motivated and energized than you did a few months ago (winter is here).
And we have a long road ahead. February is well-known as the most depressing month of the year — probably because we’re all tired from the holidays and sick of little to no sunlight.
But the good news is, there are some practical things you can do to help with your seasonal mood swings and re-ignite your excitement for life… even when the sun ain’t shining.
5 Ways to Increase Mood And Motivation During The Winter Months
Lack of sunlight would certainly impact you and your health but you can counter that to some extent. Here are five things that you can eat or do so you’re not affected by SAD.
Use Artificial Sunlight
The first step is to get as much sunshine as possible. Open the windows and let in what little light there is. Every bit counts.
And if you’re really motivated, then consider purchasing a lightbox which gives off 10,000 lux (a bright sunny day gives off about 50,000 lux) — Harvard Business Review reports that using a lightbox for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication.
The other option (highly recommended) is to take vitamin D supplements — a mood-regulating vitamin that’s given off by sunlight and one which many people are deficient in during the winter months.
The positive impact of sunlight on your mood shouldn’t be too surprising. We’ve all noticed the difference between when we wake up to blue skies versus when we wake up to dark skies and rain.
This is probably the single best way to get your blood pumping again. Find the sunlight (or create some artificial sunlight) and bask in it.
Eat Some Chocolate
Do you love chocolate?
Ha! Who doesn’t?
Well, I have good news — there’s some evidence that chocolate boosts mood and motivation. So keep some chocolate around and have a few nibbles when you’re feeling down in the dumps.
Obviously, don’t make too much routine of eating chocolate when you’re sad or you might find yourself addicted to the habit… which won’t be any good for your waistline (or your winter blues).
Eat More… Fish
If there’s one place where the winter blues should run rampant, where SAD should hold people in its depressing grip, it’s Iceland.
In December, the countries daylight diminishes to a measly 4 hours per day, making it an easy candidate for high rates of seasonal depression… except, it’s not.
The prevalence of SAD in Iceland “is much lower than that of U.S. or European locations with equivalent levels of seasonal darkness.
Why are the Icelanders so happy but you’re sitting on the couch, praying for some dear, sweet sunshine?
While more research needs to be done on the topic, there are some scientific suggestions that Icelanders are happier than most other countries because of their generous consumption of seafood.
It seems that Omega 3 — a fatty acid found in fish — might actually work as an antidepressant.
So eat more fish or take fish oil supplements and see if you feel any better. Worth a shot!
While it’s tempting to be sedentary when the skies are dark and the rain is pouring down, that’s the opposite of what you should do if you want to improve your mood.
In fact, that’s part of the problem with winter — not only do people feel down because of the weather, but they don’t exercise because they feel down… which makes them feel more down… and so the cycle continues.
It’s no secret that physical activity creates dopamine and makes you feel good. Set aside at least 30 minutes every day to get a little sweaty and pump some iron.
Exercise is a sure-fire way to improve your attitude and motivation levels for the rest of the day, even when it’s not bathing suit season.
Create a Routine
Have you ever felt like you’re on a roll-coaster through life that you have absolutely no control over? One that will take you wherever it wants, against your will?
Sucks, doesn’t it?
That’s because maintaining a sense of control over your life and what happens in your life is a human need. Psychology Today explains, “People who feel in control of their lives report better health, fewer aches and pains, and faster recovery from illnesses than other people do. They also live longer.”
Long story short, creating a morning routine puts you in direct control of how your day starts and almost always makes you feel better about where it’s headed.
Wake up at the same time every day, exercise, meditate, take a cold shower, and go to bed at the same time.
Do Read: 10 Ways to Get Back on Your Feet
There are a million different ways to hack your biology to dodge the winter blues.
You can create artificial sunlight, take some vitamin D, eat more fish or chocolate, or create a routine.
What you shouldn’t do is sit around and mope all winter. We’re all feeling a little less motivated right now, and that’s okay — it just means we need to take a little more initiative to feel energized.
Over to you
So try the above five mood-boosting strategies and let me know how it goes! These help get me through the dark winter seasons with gusto and joy. I hope they do the same for you.
What do you do to feel energized during the summer months?
Disclaimer: We're not offering any medical advice here. These ideas are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Always seek a professional medical opinion from a physician of your choosing before making any medical decision. The information provided here is not intended to be a substitute to the advice given by your physician or another healthcare professional.
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