Dark mornings, gloomy evenings, and gray days in between mean winter is here in Africa — and with the cold season, come the winter slump. Although it has no specific clinical diagnosis, experts at the National Institutes of Health say that winter slump is fairly common. Feelings of sadness, depression, lethargy, and lack of energy are usually the classic symptoms.
When your mood is falling fast, these easy and practical tips may help boost your spirits and beat winter slump.
Improve your diet
Winter means indulging in comfort foods; however, recent research found that people who ate fast foods were 49% more likely to develop symptoms of low mood and anxiety. Therefore, you should look to include more nutritious food options such as fruit, soya beans, and chicken. Foods rich in vitamin B are of extreme importance as they help the brain produce serotonin. This neurotransmitter chemical plays a vital role in balancing moods.
You can also get yourself cozy with some hot chocolate, using natural cocoa powder and almond milk. This drink gives a wonderful sense of delicious treat and can be a healthy addition to your winter diet. Drinking cocoa in the evening also helps prepare you for sleep.
Make sure your sleep schedule and environment is optimal
Winter demands a regular sleep schedule along with an optimal sleep environment. Instead of sleeping late on dark weekend mornings, try waking up at the same times every day of the week. Establish a soothing bedtime ritual and a routine wake-up time.
According to recent guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, it’s essential to get a sound sleep of at least seven hours every night for your overall health. A comfortable sleep area, free of noisy distractions can help beat the winter slump. Don’t forget to add a new and comfortable mattress at least once in two years. Don’t wait until the warm days of summer to invest in a good quality mattress. Browse the Sealy website and discover our range of comfortable mattresses, all designed to deliver a solid night’s sleep, regardless of the season!
Lace up your running shoes
According to a 2005 study from Harvard University, walking fast for an hour a day three times a week or about half an hour a day five times a week improved mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Exercising or doing workouts under bright lights is even better for recurrent depression.
Another study found that aerobic physical activity improves general mental health, depressive symptoms, and social functioning. Therefore, you should go for more aerobic exercises like swimming, running, cycling and high-intensity interval training.
Get more sun exposure
You left for work in the dark and came back home in the night, restricting yourself from getting your daily dose of natural sunshine. Less exposure to sunlight during winter months can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythms, affect your mood and energy, and cause a drop in Vitamin D and serotonin levels.
If you have the flexibility, schedule in a morning walk or lunchtime stroll. If you don’t, consider getting a full-spectrum light box. It is especially beneficial for people with seasonal depression. Light therapy helps correct your body’s circadian rhythms. It also helps stimulate the release of the natural hormones that regulate your mood and help you feel energized.
Consult your healthcare professional
Winter slump can be part of some other system. Sleep disorders, chronic pain, headaches, and even cardiovascular diseases are all linked to low mood and depression. So don’t hesitate to consult your health care provider to make sure your winter slump is not something more serious.