Well it looks as if our beautiful warm (often times hot) weather seems to have gone to sleep in order to make way for autumn and winter. Believe me, I am the first to mourn the absence of warm sunshine and I am certainly no fan of cold wind and rain. However, I am also aware that as the clouds creep in I must make extra sure to keep the mean reds from following suit.
I have my good moments when I start to feel all excited because I finally get to wear that cute winter coat and who doesn’t love a big cup of cocoa by the fire. Not that I have a fire, but the thought is nice. Then there are other days when I am depressed and cold and don’t want to get out of bed and think that maybe just taking the rest of the winter off, catching up on my prime time, and eating everything in my emergency earthquake cupboard might be a good idea. This is when I know that I am SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that usually occurs during the winter months. It is not certain what exactly causes SAD but that it most likely has something to do with the decrease in our bodies’ exposure to sunlight. It can make you depressed or anxious, increase your appetite and weight gain, and it can also lessen your desire to be social. Scientists have also found that people who are depressed will have lower levels of serotonin.
If you think that perhaps you are SAD then I suggest contacting your doctor. If you feel down but your symptoms are less severe, then you might be harboring a case of the winter blues. Either way something proactive you can do to feel better is get outside and exercise. I know it sounds crazy but it really does work. The natural light (even in winter) has been known to lessen the effects of SAD and the winter blues and exercise is a natural serotonin high. So when you start to feel like a bear about to go in for hibernation, remind yourself that going outside for a walk will actually improve your mood even if it seems like it won’t.
Make sure if you are exercising outdoors in the cold that you pay close attention to your clothing. I am talking about layers. Keep a fitted wicking layer close to your body. Material such as polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, or wool are good options. Try to avoid cotton as your base layer. Because cotton traps moisture it will stay wet and draw heat away from you. A middle layer such as fleece keeps you insulated and a top layer to protect you from the wind. Even when it’s cold, exercising will get your body heat up so feel free to de-layer as you see fit. Much of our body heat escapes from our hands and head so why not wear a hat and gloves, too. It’s also a good idea to keep an extra sweater handy for after your exercise so that you don’t get chilly as your body cools down. If you are from Minnesota and you think the weather right now is warm and balmy then by all means skip the gloves. I, on the other hand, am from California and I am cold all the time.
So for the rest of the winter whenever you start to feel like the winter blues might start creeping up on you, get outside and move! I truly believe that the exercise will make you feel better.