As a nation we are obsessed with the weather. It is more than often the starting point for conversations no matter whom we are talking to. Yet do we take time to reflect on how the weather impacts on us? As the evenings become shorter and the winter creeps in, it is worthwhile reflecting on how the weather impacts on your mood and behaviors.
The weather is a constant determinant for how we feel and it seems to affect everyone individually. It is constantly changing and impacting on our plans, our clothing and even our attitude. Many animals hibernate but humans strive to maintain the same productivity and routines no matter what way the weather is and this can put us under unnecessary stress. You may need to adapt to the shorter evenings and darker weather and reflect on what is realistic for you.
A report published in the British Journal of Psychology found that warmer temperatures lowered anxiety and skepticism and increased positive thinking. Research has shown that when we have less sunlight we are more likely to exhibit depression like symptoms. You may notice that you are feeling less motivated, more fatigued and that you lack energy more than when there is brighter weather and longer evenings. This fatigue can impact on your behaviors in different ways, leading some people to eat more sugary and carbohydrate foods, which can contribute to weight gain. While this feeling can be a normal experience for many people, it is important to have strategies so that the symptoms are not prolonged.
Our wake-sleep pattern is determined by the circadian system, which is our internal clock. Light is an indication for waking up and the darkness for sleeping. When the nights get longer you may notice that you become more tired earlier and may need more sleep than during the brighter summer months. Listen to your body and go to bed earlier. If you are struggling in the dark mornings to wake up put a light on straight away and open the curtains. Again this will impact positively on your internal clock and prepare you body for the day ahead. Some people use special lights that can be bought in most pharmacies, which have been associated with assisting people who experience seasonal depression.
Exposure to natural light is still important during the winter months. Many of us work in offices with florescent lighting and may not even have windows. Try to take a daily short walk on your lunch break to get some fresh air or at a minimum sit next to a window. Sunlight has been proven to be an essential source of vitamin D and some research has indicated that a lack of vitamin D has links to symptoms of depression. With the decrease of sunlight in the winter months you may need to consider increasing your source of vitamin D through your food intake or vitamin supplements.
During the summer months it can be more tempting to be active and social than the winter months. Although staying in more often may be the right thing for you, it is important that it does not become a habit where you are avoiding exercise or becoming socially isolated. The winter months can be a good time to join a class or take up a new hobby. Exercise is also important to keep up and you may need to adapt your regular exercise routine due to the weather. For some people you just may need to invest in good wet gear and for others exercising indoors can be a more tempting option so join a gym or fitness class.
You may also find that during the winter months that your attitude might change, you may start to look at things from a greyer perspective. The positive vibe of the brighter months can wear off and you may become more irritable with yourself and those around you. Catch yourself if you are complaining and shift your thinking to what is going well in your life. Organise nice events for yourself, as it is important to have something positive to look forward to. If you are lucky enough to be able to do this, book a sun holiday!
The winter months can be more challenging for some people however if you take time to put strategies in place, spring will be on the horizon before you know it. If you are struggling to keep yourself motivated during the darker months reach out and talk to someone.
For further details contact go to www.smartpsychology.ie