Come January, after all the hoopla of the holidays has passed, it can be a bit of a challenge for me to remain as positive as I’d like. After all, there are no major holidays to look forward to, it’s cold outside and there’s no relief from the snow that blankets the ground, at least for another few months. The lack of sunlight and my generally cynical nature surely doesn’t help.
While I’ve never been formally diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I suspect it could be a possibility. The statistics reveal I’m not alone. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, as many as six in every 100 people in the United States have winter depression, or SAD. Another 10 to 20 percent may experience some mild form of the disorder.
Symptoms of SAD can include: a change in appetite (especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods), weight gain, a heavy feeling in the arms or legs, a drop in energy level, fatigue, a tendency to oversleep, difficulty concentrating, irritability, increased sensitivity to social rejection and avoidance of social situations.
As a Wisconsinite, you’d need superhuman strength and willpower to avoid succumbing to any of those symptoms. But one thing I’ve found that helps my mood immensely is some form of daily activity. Whether it’s a vigorous session of shoveling, going sledding with my kids or running on the treadmill, no matter how much I dread the start of it, I’m always grateful I did it when I’m finished. Not only am I physically warmer, but my mood is elevated and I generally feel more positive about things.
The next time you feel like Mother Nature has it in for you, get active, if only for 15 minutes. You may surprise yourself.