Powering Through the Winter Blues

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By Bernice Kwan

Winter quarter can be tough on many people. With the holiday season gone, the lack of sunshine and biting cold, it can be hard to stay on top of day-to-day activities. Sometimes, staying healthy in the wintertime can pose a whole other challenge in itself. However there are many things you can do to make sure you are treating your body right during this cold weather season.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common form of depression that comes with the changes in seasons; there are about 3 million people in the US suffering from SAD today. With SAD, the lack of sunlight causes the brain to produce more melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates your sleep patterns and has been linked to depression. One may find themselves feeling irritable, having low energy, having trouble sleeping, and experiencing weight gain.

Whether or not you are experiencing the full effects of SAD, you may be burdened by some of these symptoms, and could use some spirit lifting. Here are some tips and tricks to fight the frost!

Go for morning walks – It may be a challenge to find the motivation to get out of bed and go for a walk first thing in the morning but getting through this first obstacle can help you prepare your body for the rest of your day! This is because the direct sunlight entering your eyes jumpstarts your body’s internal clock to start the day. Take a stroll in the arboretum before heading to class, or just stop and take a minute to soak up whatever sun you can before going into lecture.

Spend quality time with friends – Whether or not you feel like it applies to you, people are social beings. We need support from one another, and sometimes, all it takes is a conversation with a friend to satisfy that need of human connection. Hit up a friend or two and ask them to join you for that morning arboretum stroll!

Get your blood flowing – Exercise is one of the most effective ways to alleviate a dampened mood and reduce anxiety levels. For a twist on your typical exercise regime, try doing yoga. Yoga has a wide range of benefits that help your mind and body relax. Check out this article for some insight on why you should start doing yoga!

https://healthyaggies.com/2016/12/21/why-college-students-need-yoga/

Avoid processed foods – Processed foods generally have a higher glycemic index. This means that it spikes up your blood glucose levels after a meal, but later drops it lower than it was prior to the meal. This is sometimes known as “sugar-crash.” The result of this reduced energy, which could worsen an already sluggish mood from the winter blues. Instead, eat more complex carbs, which have lower glycemic index, found in things like vegetables, beans, and fruit.

The winter months can be a challenge, but remember that the sun will shine again! Be mindful this winter season to stay happy and healthy, but remember, you can always reach out if you need help. UC Davis offers a wide range of mental and physical programs to make sure all aspects of your life are in check. For more information, check out the Student Health and Counseling Services website.

https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/

 

Resources

http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/beating-winters-woes#1

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm

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