How Winter Affects Our Health - And How To Fight Back
The winter season will be here before we know it, and many parts of the country are already beginning to experience snow and cold weather. Coupling that with the fact that we are just about to reach the end of daylight savings time and the sun will soon set before many of us finish the work day, it is important to understand how all of these seasonal changes affect our physical and mental health. Today, Inspyr Gear is offering some advice on how to make the most out of winter.
How Winter Affects Athletes
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a phenomenon that many people experience each year when depression-like symptoms creep up with seasonal changes, most often beginning in fall or winter and lessening in spring or summer. This is usually caused by several factors that we’ve outlined below:
- Less sunlight affects our biological clocks and disrupts our circadian rhythms — the sleep-wake cycle that our body naturally follows. This can result in a lack of proper sleep or even oversleeping, lack of energy, and also can make it feel like there is not enough time in the day to accomplish our responsibilities.
- Decrease in vitamin D. Sun exposure produces vitamin D in the body, an important vitamin for fighting depression. When there are fewer hours of sunlight during the day, and most of those hours are spent inside, a vitamin D deficiency can develop, leading to depression-like symptoms.
- Changes in diet: Many of us indulge in more sweet treats and high-carb foods like pasta and potatoes during the winter, often as a way to deal with the cold. This can cause weight gain and make us feel sluggish, making it even more difficult to feel confident and stay active.
- Lack of exercise: Cold temperatures have a major effect on our exercise habits. After all, going for a run after work spending the weekends hiking often ends with daylight savings. Exercising produces so-called “happiness hormones” like serotonin and reduces stress hormones like cortisol. When you begin to exercise less frequently, these hormones can be thrown out of whack.
How Athletes Can Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder
Because athletes often spend so much time outdoors, changes in weather can have a major impact on their mood and behavior. Follow these tips to fight off SAD during the upcoming months:
- Eat healthily: Indulge in sweets and pasta occasionally, but be sure to keep eating plenty of fresh vegetables and lean proteins.
- Keep exercising: Find ways to continue to fit exercise into your schedule. If this means running during your lunch break or committing to going to the gym with friends after work, do it. Don’t let the short days and snow keep you from being active and producing those feel-good hormones.
- Keep yourself motivated: Find what motivates you. Whether it’s wearing inspirational socks under your work clothes, meeting with a therapist, building a vision board, creating a to-do list, or meeting up with friends every week, keep up your motivational habits.