If you are anything like me, then you are either cursing the winter Gods or Canada for causing us to risk life and limb leaving our front door in the unbearable New England cold. While I may not be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I can certainly sympathize with those that do. As it looks, it should heat up around July, and while cursing our neighbors to the north might be one option for alleviating our disgruntlement, there are other options as well…
Research has found that the majority of those suffering from the SAD experienced relief solely from the regular use of light boxes. Light boxes emit high intensities of light of 2,500 to 10,000 lux (as compared to a normal light fixture that emits 250 to 500 lux) and produce similar effects to the sun’s natural rays. The high intensities of light improve the mood of those suffering from the winter blues because they restrict the secretion of melatonin in the brain.
Exercise has proven to help people combat feeling of the blues in the winter. Not only does exercise improve mood, but it also has been shown to reduce stress, which often exacerbates feelings of depression brought on by the winter blues. Studies had pointed out that one hour doing aerobic exercise outside (even with a cloudy skies overhead) had the same benefits as 2.5 hours of light treatment indoors.
Many people (like me) who suffer from the winter blues crave junk food and soft drinks as the days get shorter. The reason some people indulge in high-sugar foods is because carbohydrates are often effective in increasing energy levels in the brain. A better strategy for anyone with the winter blues would be to eat larger portions of complex carbohydrates, like pasta and rice, and healthy simple carbohydrates like fruits and fruit juices during meals.