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Seasonal Behaviours

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Experiencing a spring in your step, jumping for joy, feel lethargic or feel like finding a cave to hibernate?

In the Southern Hemisphere Fall is approaching and Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Most people experience some sort of change in their mood and behaviour when the seasons turn. Change in the available environmental light over the seasons may have a profound effect on your body chemistry. Some individuals notice a decrease in energy levels and require more sleep as the light decreases. Other potential behavioural changes include isolation from family and friends.

Winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) usually suffer from depressive episodes beginning in late fall or early winter, and start to feel better when spring or summer approach. Harsh winters can affect your levels of melatonin, a hormone that impacts sleep. With daylight hours decreasing, melatonin levels increase, causing fatigue and depression for some. Extended darkness also disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm (24 Hour rhythm). Light provides environmental cues that influence pupil dilation, alertness, heart rate and melatonin levels. In fact, the light that enters the retina of the eye actually sets your circadian rhythm.

The reverse is also true when the weather turns warm and sunny, and your body starts receiving extended exposure to light. Some individuals experience insomnia, or become more anxious, irritable and hyperactive during the spring and summer.

Tips to help beat the blues:

  1. Make your house light and bright. Open the curtains and blindsso daylight can freely enter the house.
  2. Have enough natural or electrical light where you spend the longest time, home as well as the office.
  3. Spend at least half an hour daily outdoors, if weather permits.
  4. Go to a mall where there are other people and where you can move about freely.
  5. Find ways in which you can beat the “cabin fever.” Maybe you and your friends can organize a get-together
  6. Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors, but, if unable, switch to an indoor exercise program.
  7. If your circumstances allow, take a mid-winter vacation, preferably, in a sunny place.
  8. Hunger and craving for sweets and starches is common in SAD. People eat to beat the blues and many of them become “carbohydrate addicts.” The weight gain causes them to diet which causes a “yo-yo weight changer.” Eat balanced meals which are high on complex carbohydrates and protein, and low on fat, favour vegetables, fruits, andgrains.
  9. Depressed mood makes one sluggish and sleepy. Sleeping excessively may increase depression. Force yourself to wake up early, say 7.00 rather than 10.00. Warm up in the morning, with brisk activity. Laughter of 15 minutes with a comedy can get you going.
  10. Avoid excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or any other substance to overcome sluggishness and lethargy.
  11. No matter what the fashion trend, wear bright colours or just something bright with your clothes to lift your mood during winter.

Shakespeare said “Think not of the sky as spotted with clouds, but partly sunny… “

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