Autumn and then winter are seasons that bring their share of wonders: glistening colors, snow-covered landscapes, evenings by the fireside or family get-togethers. However, for many people, this period can also be synonymous with winter blues, a feeling of tiredness, sadness and lack of motivation that can sometimes insidiously set in.
But why this drop in morale or motivation?
These seasons bring with them changes in our environment that can affect our mental well-being.
First of all, the days are getting shorter - it feels like 8pm even though it's only 5pm... Which means we're exposed to less daylight. This reduced exposure to natural light can have an impact on our mood, as daylight stimulates the production of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel good. What's more, our bodies have an internal biological clock that regulates our sleep and wakefulness rhythms. The lack of daylight in autumn and winter can disrupt this clock. Our vitamin D levels, which are essential for our mental health, also tend to drop in winter, due to this lack of sun exposure.
What's more, the winter season can be a stressful time for some people, due to the festive season, social obligations and financial concerns. Stress can have a negative impact on our mood and contribute to depression.
All these factors combine to make some people more susceptible to depression during the autumn and winter months. However, it's important to remember that there are ways to manage these challenges, including using light therapy, staying physically active, adopting a healthy diet and finding ways to manage stress. Winter blues can be temporary, and by taking steps to look after your mental wellbeing, you can get through this period more serenely.
Here are a few tips to combat the winter blues:
Well-known by now, light therapy is a brilliant trick for countering the winter blues. It involves using a light therapy lamp, which emits light similar to sunlight. This artificial light can help stimulate serotonin production in your brain, improving your mood and energy levels. It's usually enough to spend around 30 minutes a day in front of the lamp to feel the benefits. It's best to do this in the morning to regulate your biological clock. You can use this time to read, meditate or simply eat breakfast.
Regular exercise is a powerful antidote to the winter blues. Moving your body releases endorphins, chemicals that give you a feeling of well-being. Even if the days are shorter and colder, find ways to stay active. Opt for outdoor walks, at-home workouts, or join a yoga or line-dancing class. The important thing is to maintain an exercise routine that works for you.
A balanced diet
When it's cold or you're feeling a bit down, many people tend to eat more sugar (or fat). A mistake, because while they may be good for you in the short term, too much of them can make you feel worse, by making you feel guilty or putting on weight, for example. After all, diet has a significant impact on our health. Opt for a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit, lean proteins and whole grains. Foods rich in omega-3, such as small oily fish (sardines, mackerel, herring), nuts or seeds (flax or chia) can also help maintain your nervous system. Don't forget to stay well hydrated, even in winter. Often, in winter, we tend to forget to drink enough water because we don't feel thirsty in the same way as in summer.
Good hydration helps maintain energy balance, regulate body temperature and support optimal body function. What's more, mild dehydration can affect your mood and concentration, which can exacerbate the symptoms of winter blues. So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, also favoring hot herbal teas or infusions to warm you up and keep you well hydrated, even during the coldest months of the year.
Good sleep is crucial to your mental health. Establishing a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can be very beneficial. Create a comfortable sleeping environment by keeping your bedroom dark, quiet and cool. Avoid screens before bedtime, as blue light can disrupt your sleep. A night's restful sleep can do wonders for your mood.
What if winter was the ideal time to explore new passions? Whether it's painting, cooking, music, sewing or anything else you're passionate about, pursuing these creative hobbies can help you stay engaged, maintain an active mind and find joy to compensate for reduced outdoor activity and lack of light. What's more, sharing your creations with others, even online, can strengthen your sense of social connection, a crucial element for nervous balance.
Winter blues are not inevitable. By understanding its causes and adopting simple strategies such as light therapy, exercise, a balanced diet, quality sleep and creative activities, you can strengthen your resilience in the face of this often demanding season. Remember that the winter blues are temporary, and with careful nurturing, you can transform winter into a time of revitalization, creativity and inner warmth. Have a wonderful season!