It’s been a funny old year so far and not an easy one for anyone. Thanks to COVID-19, many people have been feeling anxious, stressed, sad, isolated, and depressed, and as we enter into the winter months, this is only going to worsen. It has been scientifically proven that the weather can dramatically affect your happiness, so if this is something you suffer with, don’t worry, you’re not crazy, and you’re not alone. There have been years of social psychological research that can shed some light on why you feel at certain times of the year. Like other animals, for humans, the cold and dark we experience in winter can cause us to hibernate, but do you know what this weather is doing to your internal chemistry? Do you know what happens to your brain when the sun comes out? Or what happens when it rains? Do you know why you hit the snooze button more when it’s raining? Or do you know why you can’t struggle to stick to an exercise plan? Or why you crave carbs more in the winter? There is a scientific reason behind every one of these feelings and actions, and once you understand why you act the way you do, you can better prepare yourself to cope with how you are going to feel in certain weathers.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD (which makes total sense), is a mood disorder that usually affects people during the winter months when it’s darker later in the morning and earlier in the evening. Being exposed to less sunlight means that your body produces more melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy, so therefore it will be no surprise if you start to crave naps during the day. With less sunlight, your brain also starts producing lower levels of serotonin, which affects not only your mood but your appetite too. Basically, SAD can make you feel sad, but there are ways to combat this. For example, you could book yourself a holiday and get some winter sun; this will also give you something to look forward to. If you suffer from other health conditions, then you should consider looking into medical tourism as this will not only get you the treatment you need but the sunshine to help you recover too. If traveling isn’t an option for you, put your bedroom lights on a timer, so they come on before you need to wake up – this will give your brain the illusion of a sunrise, or invest in a light alarm clock which will slowly brighten your room.
Don’t worry; it’s not just you; there is a reason why you feel lazier in the winter. Cold temperatures reduce your agility, muscle strength, blood flow, and balance and which can make it more difficult for you to perform physical tasks. There isn’t really much you can do to beat this apart from putting on a load of layers, warming up inside before you brave the cold, and having the self-discipline to get yourself out.