Did you Know: Weather Changes Can Totally Affect Your Mood
It’s no longer news to the general public that last week Las Vegas was hit with a snow storm!
Last week snow fall started accumulating on the Las Vegas Strip for the first time in over 10 years and continued for two days followed by a stretch of cold weather in the southwest desert.
According to the National Weather Service, 0.5 inches of snow was measured at McCarran International Airport which was the first time the city's official reporting site recorded measurable snowfall since 2008. It didn’t stop there, many Vegas suburbs were ‘hit hard’ (for those of us not used to snow) My backyard alone was covered in 7 inches!
Hello, massive layers! As winter continues to drag on in the harshest of ways there are so many of us that dread the cold and feel a sense of nostalgia for the summer heat.
If you’ve accepted that winter just isn’t your thing and it makes you feel ‘off’ you’re not alone. After several conversations with friends and co-workers who agree- I wanted to give a little education behind why you may be feeling under the weather.
With shorter, and gloomier days equating to less time being spent outside, it’s common to feel off. But if you are finding yourself unable to shake these negative thoughts and if they begin to affect your personal life or work environment, it’s possible you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD is a form of depression that’s directly related to changes in seasons.
It’s a real thing, and it affects 4 to 6 percent of people. In most cases, people with SAD experience symptoms at the beginning of fall that continue through the winter months, it depletes energy and often makes people feel moody.
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Tiredness or low energy
SAD is not to be confused with just having a bad day. No one is perfect and you’re going to have some bad days. However, if you find that you’re feeling down for several days at a time and can’t get motivated to do activities that you normally would do - it may be time to see a healthcare provider.
If your change in mood is just a case of the winter blues, there are several ways to overcome those ill feelings to start feeling brighter and happier all season long!
My Recommendations on How to Overcome Winter Blues
Maintain a healthy diet.
While some foods and substances, like candy and carbohydrates and alcohol, provide temporary feelings of satisfaction and euphoria, they can also ultimately lead to anxiety and depression. Though it’s okay to indulge occasionally, you should focus on eating a balanced, whole foods diet. By providing your body with the nutrients it needs, you’ll have more energy and feel so much better about yourself. Plus, as the weather gets colder, you can reach for things like hearty soups and stews that often require less time in the kitchen, giving you more time to participate in activities you love!
Get regular exercise.
While getting to the gym when it’s cold and dark might be more difficult, daily exercise is good for your body and your brain. Plus, committing to just 30 minutes five times a week can instantly lift your mood. In the winter, I’m obsessed with hot yoga! Need a little inspiration? Grab a friend, coworker, or significant other to go with you. Try a new workout class or do yoga at the end of your workday. You’ll feel restored and energized and will even sleep better at night!
Plan a vacation.
When you can’t take the cold plan a vacation to somewhere to reconnect with your zen. I escaped the Vegas winter, and took a solo trip to Palm Springs, California. Longing for some vitamin D and sun therapy? You might start to feel happier as soon as you plan a vacation. The simple act of researching and having something to look forward to will likely boost your mood. Plus, getting away for a few days will help you feel invigorated, relaxed, and stress-free.
Increase social interactions.
You might be more inclined to stay home when it’s cold outside, but social interaction is key to being happy and healthy. Be around family and friends to lift your spirits, especially in the winter months and during the holidays. Ask a friend to go to a movie or grab a cup of coffee with a coworker. Want to save money? Invite friends over for a wine night and great conversation. Laugh more, worry less, and spend time with the people you love.
Practice relaxation techniques.
Anxiety and stress are often associated with the winter blues. Since both are damaging to your health, incorporating things like yoga and meditation might be exactly what both your mind and body need. I love to garden, and propagate plants within my home. Doing an activity that you love really helps you to find gratitude in the present moment.
Since we covered how important a healthy diet is for decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression, read on to learn about some of my favorite mood-boosting foods.
My Recommendation for Mood-Boosting Foods
In a study done at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland, researchers found that eating about an ounce of dark chocolate every day for two weeks reduced levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in people who were highly stressed. Like elsewhere, everything in moderation, so be careful not to overdo it!
Did anyone ever tell you to eat a banana before exercising? Bananas supply the body with energy! Not only will you get potassium, B vitamins, and carbohydrates all in one piece of fruit, but you’ll stay full for longer. Whenever you’re craving a snack, reach for a banana!
Many of us already know how beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are to overall health, and an easy way to add it to the diet is by eating more salmon! Great for higher energy levels, optimal brain functioning, and circulation…need I say more?
A potent source of antioxidants, blueberries are one of my favorite fruits to consume during the winter months (and throughout the year!). Add them to smoothies and fruit salads or indulge in a piece of your favorite blueberry pie. Although blueberries aren’t on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, I still recommend that you buy organic.
From yogurt and kefir to kombucha and sauerkraut – there are many ways to enjoy your favorite probiotics. They’re good for digestive health and reducing stress. Enjoy a parfait for breakfast or add some fermented foods to your dinner plate.
While these are just a few ways to start feeling energized and less sluggish, it’s incredibly important to listen to your body. Some days you might need a few extra hours of sleep or a nice long bath to bounce back. (My fave!) Do what’s going to make you feel your best, and remember it’s okay to not feel like yourself 100% of the time.
Have you ever experienced the winter blues? If so, what did you do to feel better? Share in the comments below!
Thank you for reading. If you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, please contact me directly so that I can recommend you to a trusted healthcare provider.