Our Moods in the Winter Months

The winter of 2010 has been particularly rough or impressive depending on your frame of reference. Having spent 10 years in Tucson, Arizona and now living in the eastern part of the United States, I am on the side of “rough.” For millions of people all across the planet, the winter of 2010 has caused school closings, car accidents, loss of power, plenty of exercise with shoveling, water damage, and eventual flooding. The chronic nature of the 2010 winter season has also caused our mood to sour.

Chronic stress can certainly cause changes in the brain. Research indicates this can occur in the form of structural and chemical change. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one type of psychological disorder caused by a life-threatening stressor though reduced efficiency and functionality can also be caused by an unrelenting stressor in our lives. One aspect of the chemical alteration in our brains is a change in our moods. This might mean a clinical disorder such as depression or seasonal affective disorder or a more mild change such as increased irritability, fatigue, frustration, and a sense of hopelessness. Mother Nature is in charge!

It is important to recognize your own situation and how you and your loved ones may be coping with such a difficult winter. For those of us who are not “winter people” this can be a difficult challenge. Some coping mechanisms to consider include:

1.    Remember spring is getting closer each day.
2.    Use the down time to engage in family activities.
3.    Get some work done organizing or cleaning the house.
4.    Try to recreate in the snow as a family.
5.    Shovel the snow as a family (if you are physically able shoveling is a good exercise, but remember to bend your knees     and proceed in small steps).
6.    Build a fire if you have a fireplace and enjoy the moment.
7.    Use relaxation and meditation daily to cope.
8.    Be conscious of how you are feeling.
9.    Talk to your doctor about light therapy if needed.
10.    Spring is getting closer each day.

Bundle up and we will get through this together.

5 thoughts on “Our Moods in the Winter Months”

  1. Several studies suggest that Vitamin D has an important role in keeping the brain healthy and alert. It is an established fact that Vitamin D is produced by exposure to sunlight. It is also a fact that there is less opportunity for exposure to sunlight during the winter months. Surely these facts provide some clues on how we might reduce the severity of SAD.

  2. I read this today as we traveled south to Florida to “escape” winter. But we found they also are having unusually cold weather. It looks like our best day was yesterday when it was 67 degrees — not exactly up to our “expectations”. We did sit in the sun which was refreshing. We have had to get creative to make the most of this vacation since the weather is not cooperating. But we’re still able to enjoy the sun, can exercise outdoors instead of on the treadmill, and relax with a good book. So we’re making the best of it … plus there will be more time to play brain games :)!

  3. HAFA ADAI! I am from the beautiful tropical island of guam but am now a statesider transplant to the state of washington( the evergreen state). Granted the scenery is beautiful, that is when is not too overcast, gloomy or dreary to actually enjoy it! I call the fall and winter and even now in may the doom and gloom! We are definitely lacking sunshine on a consistent basis. I am one of those people that is very affected by the weather! Needless 2 say ive been battling depression for years! This year i decided to be more proactive and try focus on the things i can control. I try to remain positive and upbeat and have even allowed myself to be silly when appropriate. With the change in my mental and emotional outlook looking up I also sought alternate sources of Vitamin D. This year i added 10000 iu min of vitamin d3, i invested in a HAPPY LIGHT, which simulates the uv, etc rays of natural sunshine! I even decided to try tanning in a tanning bed. LOL im naturally tan, but by my standards pale. I was in guam for three weeks in october, came back nice and tan. My tan literally fell off 3 weeks after returning to Wa. Well I have to say that tanning has many benefits and drawbacks. Now that i have experienced it for myself, i get what all the fuss is about. And yes it feels great and is addicting, but everything in moderation and be smart about your protective measures and know when to draw the line. o yea there is the skin cancer risk. honestly just living and breathing is risky. u just have 2 weigh out the pros and cons and make a smart and informative decision for yourself. after all only u truly know thyself!!

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