Start Early to Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder This Year

Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 15:29
In the next couple of weeks, we will set the clocks back an hour and shorten the little bit of daylight we have in the fall and winter months.  For many of us, setting the clocks back an hour means that it’s already dark when we leave work.  Some form of seasonal affective disorder impacts approximately twenty percent of Americans.  Natural light helps the body produce serotonin which acts as a natural antidepressant in the body. The absence of that light can leave many of us feeling depressed, tired, or irritable with the lack of natural light available.

Starting now, to prepare your mental health for the coming cold and dark months, can help you stay on track to achieve your health and fitness goals all year.

  1. Exercise more. You can create endorphins that help to boost your energy and mood by simply exercising more often during the colder months.  Exercise has been proven to combat moderate symptoms of depression, increase energy and improve your mood, making exercise the perfect response to feelings of seasonal depression.

  2. Eat better.Any feelings of depression may make you crave sugary comfort foods because carbohydrate-rich foods create serotonin, but this is not the time to overindulge.  Overindulging will only sabotage your goals, lead to unwanted weight gain and leave you feeling even more tired and irritable.  Instead, to counteract seasonal depression, add produce to your healthy meals, particularly green leafy vegetables. Vegetables like spinach or broccoli regulate your neurotransmitters. Fortunately, these food are also easy to add to a salad or to pair with a lean protein like chicken to create a balanced, healthy dinner with little effort.

Omega-rich foods like salmon improve brain health and may actually reduce the symptoms of depression. The omega fatty acids also boost serotonin production, making you feel better without the unwanted weight gain or blood sugar spikes you feel when you eat too many comfort foods.  Adding lemon to your salmon also gives you a taste of summer when you’re otherwise stuck indoors.

  1. Try something new.No matter what your fitness goals, the fall and winter months create an opportunity to explore new fitness trends inside.  FitClub’s vast array of group exercises classes will give you plenty of opportunities to try a new workout.  You could also take up an entirely new sport, like swimming or CycleFit, to combat your sadness that summer is over.  Learning a new skill can boost your mood, help you reevaluate your fitness goals, and distract you from the dreary winter days ahead.

  2. Make plans.It can be tempting to hibernate all winter and binge watch your favorite television shows, but making your health and fitness a social activity can boost your mood almost immediately.  Meeting up with friends at Zumbainstead of happy hour or making a healthy dinner for a night at home with loved ones can help you meet your social needs when the weather drives us all indoors.

How will you stay happier and healthier this winter?  Start now with a plan and build consistency for a happier, healthier, fitter year!