Impacting your body and brain: Simple ways to avoid the winter blues

Winter brings longer nights that can actually impact your health, leading to winter depression. Here are a few simple ways to avoid the seasonal blues this year.

Tuesday, Dec. 21, is the shortest day and longest night of the year! It’s also known as the winter solstice. But what does that mean for you? How does it affect your brain and your body? Here are some simple ways to avoid the winter blues.

How do weather and longer nights impact your health?

The longer winter nights can lower vitamin D levels, leaving you feeling exhausted. Foods that help are tuna, salmon, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, cheese and egg yolks. Less sunshine also causes depression rates to spike.

Studies reveal your brain’s serotonin levels are lower this time of year, causing you to feel moody. It also throws off our circadian rhythm.

When the sleep-wake cycle is disrupted, our bodies make less melatonin. Psychologists suggest taking a walk first thing in the morning. The natural light helps jump-start the circadian clock. If that’s not possible, electronic lightboxes can help. That’s not all, according to the New York Times, the drop in melatonin and serotonin can also have a negative effect on fertility. But don’t worry, it’s just temporary and should correct itself as your body becomes accustomed to it. And does it seem you get more headaches this time of year? You’re not alone.

Medical Daily reports that migraine cases increase from December through March. Try not to change your activity level. Keep exercising, seeing people, and stick to appointments.

Psychotherapist, M. Clark Canine, reminds us that “Our wellbeing, our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions are under our control.”

Studies also show women between the ages of 20 and 40 were twice as likely to have seasonal blues compared to men. That may have to do with lower levels of estrogen and progesterone during this time of year. If you’re feeling down for more than a few weeks, contact your doctor.