It’s February. Aside from slightly warmer temperatures and longer days, much of the country is still knee-deep in winter. In fact, both Chicago and New York have seen snow and freezing rain over the last couple of days. When you combine inclement weather with overcast days, it can make the most energetic person feel tired and unmotivated. Poor weather also makes it harder to get around outdoors. Traffic is bad. The roads aren’t cleared. And it’s just plain cold.
Is it True that Weather Can Affect Our Mood?
Winter weather is a typical part of living in the Midwest or East, but many people agree that they could do without it. It’s well documented that the weather can impact how we feel. For instance, warm temperatures and exposure to sunlight have the biggest positive effect on the mood. Sunlight provides us with vitamin D, which affects hormones, and therefore, mood. But too little sunlight can have a negative impact.
What are the Winter Blues?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is the clinical name for the winter blues. SAD occurs from the drop in temperature and shortened days. Symptoms include excessive eating, excessive sleeping, and depression. Women are more likely to suffer from SAD than men. The best ways to prevent SAD include maintaining a regular schedule, getting exercise and exposing yourself to light, either natural or artificial.
Tips for Beating Winter Depression
Knowing that the weather can have an effect on the average person’s mood, imagine what it can do if you’re recovering from addiction! Many of the suggestions that are made to keep yourself going become more difficult during the winter. You may not be able to take daily walks or enjoy meditation in a quiet garden. If you’re not careful, a winter slump can turn into winter depression and put you at risk for relapse.
Let’s look at some of the best ways to beat the winter blues and keep your recovery going strong.
- Create a Schedule. If you wake up without a plan, it will be that much easier to sit on the couch all day. Have each hour accounted for, and write down your 12-step meetings, exercise, appointments, and social activities.
- Go Outside. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Shovel your driveway. Get the mail. Walk your neighbor’s dog as a favor. Getting outdoors gets your oxygen levels moving and your blood pumping, and exposes you to vitamin D.
- Get Up Early. Get up with the sun. The days are still short at this time of the year, so if you sleep in, you’ll be missing out on the sunlight.
- Exercise. Exercise should be a priority of yours as you bring your body back to health. For the biggest boost, choose activities that will break a sweat such as running on a treadmill or attending a spinning class. Relaxing activities are also beneficial, such as yoga or feng shui.
- Spend Time with Others. Make time for family and friends. Choose activities that get you out of the house, such as seeing a play or meeting for coffee.
Winter will be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean the cold, dreary days will be. Some states see wintry weather through May. But don’t let that stand in the way of your recovery. Build a schedule around the weather so that you can beat the winter blues – just like you can addiction!
Call The River Source today to learn more about our holistic recovery program. Our treatment facilities are located in Arizona, where the sun shines every day!