Everyone’s heard of it: the “winter blues.” Nobody enjoys it when the days get shorter—and it’s even harder to stay positive with less sunlight, low temps and the stress of the holidays. For people with Seasonal Affective Disorder—a real psychological disorder with an appropriate acronym (SAD)—the winter blues are more than something to grumble about.
Many people downplay these feelings or chalk them up to winter conditions in a casual way because they don’t like the idea of having a mental health disorder. The fact is, SAD is serious—and your approach to dealing with it needs to be equally as serious.
The Winter Blues by Another Name: Seasonal Depression
The “winter blues” is actually a euphemism for a serious mental health condition. SAD is recognized by the American Psychological Association as “a type of depression that lasts for a season, typically the winter months, and goes away during the rest of the year.”
If your “winter blues” start to affect your work or your personal relationships, you may have SAD. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may include:
- Feelings of depression
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Low energy
- Problems sleeping
The reason people experience SAD has to do with the amount of sunlight they get—specifically a lack of sunlight and the benefits they’re missing out on. Experts theorize that winter’s days of less sunlight may disrupt your natural circadian rhythms, leading to low serotonin levels during the colder months and a disruption in melatonin.
Additionally, when you’re not exposed to much sunshine, your body has less vitamin D, which may be a contributing factor to SAD. A vitamin D supplement can help and, in fact, most doctors will recommend a vitamin d supplement regardless—it’s one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the adult population, made worse by winter’s dark days.
Practices to Keep the Winter Blues at Bay
The winter blues can seem like an inevitability, and everyone experiences them differently. The good news is that regardless of if it’s a passing feeling or a pervasive condition, there are a few good habits anyone can get into to help combat symptoms of SAD.
- Exercising and keeping yourself active
- Keeping your mind busy with positive activities
- Meditating and getting enough sleep at night
- Eating a healthy and nutritious diet
Diet Can Help Keep the Winter Blues Away
Of the activities mentioned above, diet has the most to do with how we feel on a daily basis. Our digestive health and our mental health are intrinsically linked, which means what you’re eating has a direct effect on mood. Adopting a healthier diet during the winter season goes a long way in the fight against SAD. This time of year is a great time to start Keto or other diets that help to shift the body’s gut health toward a more positive balance.
Don’t be Ashamed if You’re Feeling Down
You’re not a weak person because you suffer from SAD. What matters is that you recognize the signs and take the steps that you can control to fight back. Start with your diet and use it as a catalyst to make other healthy changes. A happy gut equals a healthy mind, which makes it easier to take the steps necessary to leave the winter blues behind.