It can be hard enough dealing with winter weather when out on the road. But with the addition of shorter days and longer nights, wintertime can cause trouble with your health as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that affects around 10-20% of Americans during the winter months
 
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
 
Usually symptoms are similar to those of depression, and can include:

  • Fatigue and low-energy
  • Increased sleep
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Withdrawal from social activities, or normal routines

Causes of SAD
 
Due to the lack of sunlight, there is a dip in serotonin – the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, memory, libido, and sleep.  Genetics can play a factor as well if there is a family history of mood disorders, and women tend to be affected more than men.

Beating the Winter Blues
 
Luckily there are plenty of easy ways to beat seasonal affective disorder. If you know that you have a tendency to get down in the dumps during this time of year, take a preventative approach. You prep your truck, garden, or house for seasonal changes, so why not your body too?

 

Coping with the Winter Blues

Get some natural light.

One of the simplest ways to cheer up is to get as much sunlight as possible. Whether it’s being sure to open your blinds in the morning, or just getting out and going for a walk, getting those natural rays of sunlight will help boost your mood.
 
Exercise for positive vibes.

Not only can doing a quick workout help with depression, but it also boosts endorphins. These endorphins give you a natural high that will keep your spirits lifted, and also maintain good health. Here are some great workouts to do around your truck.
 
Eat healthier.

There are some great healthy snack ideas out there that will keep you going through the colder months. Cutting back on sugar can help too, since it has been linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Having a well-rounded and healthy diet will keep you going with a more sustained energy burn, rather than the quick boost (then crash) you get from sugars and carbohydrates. Be sure you’re getting good amounts of protein and fiber, and lots of vegetables.
 
Keep your routine.

Don’t get rid of your regular habits just because the cold weather makes you want to hibernate. If you usually stop to go for a walk, bundle up, and do it! If you have meetings or gatherings to attend, go to them. You’ll feel better maintaining those hobbies and be happier in the long run.
 
Get outside.

Along those same lines, bundle up, and get some fresh air. Don’t just roll down the window, but really get out and enjoy the crisp winter air. A walk will boost your spirits, and it will feel good to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. You could even find a nearby ice skating rink, or find your inner child at the nearest sledding hill. Getting outside will also get you more sunlight and boost serotonin!
 
Breathe and relax.

Reducing your stress and learning how to meditate will really help with depression and anxiety. Try just sitting quietly with your eyes closed, and taking some deep breaths. Count to five with each inhale, and five with each exhale. Do this for 5 minutes each day. Try some basic yoga stretches to go even further!
 
Take a break.

Taking a vacation means taking time for yourself, which is excellent for mental health. Try taking time off when freight has lulled (in January and February), then make the most of the busier months when you get back. Remember not to depend on a vacation to be the ultimate pick-me-up since it’s the more expensive option. If you haven’t given yourself a break in a while though, it’s important to turn off work from time to time and recharge.
 
Although this time of year can be difficult, it can also be a great opportunity to get back on track with your health and wellness. The cold winter months may make us feel like hibernating, but focusing on staying positive will improve mood and sustain health well into spring!

Image Source - https://www.flickr.com/photos/seabamirum/

 

Comments (5)

Beth Bogdewiecz

Beth started at ATBS in December of 2013. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2003, then relocated soon after to Denver, Colorado. She has previously worked in social media, design, and marketing & advertising at Denver's famous Comedy Works comedy club, as well as at Modern in Denver Magazine. When not at work, Beth enjoys everything outdoors - hiking, camping, snowboarding, and biking. She also loves to cook and create unique recipes to share with her family and friends.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition and not understood by many. I was finally diagonised with it in 2002 after several bad winters in a row. It affects individuals different just like any other disorder. In my case weeks on end without sun result is huge weight gain. Yes I have the light and it does help. But it is not the real thing. The last two winters while we encountered colder weather and more snow were actually two of my better winters. I have learned with the SADS that snow is my best friend in the winter. Oh I don't like it for trucking but with the SADS it is a huge help. While the sky is gloomy and ugly as the snow storm moves in the after effect is awesome. the snow cleans the air, sky, plutants, etc. After a decent snow the air and sky are very crisp. Typically very sunny and the sun reflecting off the snow counteracts the pre snow conditions. I am actually leaving Saturday to go to Florida. We have a friend that has a gym and he is a personal trainer. So I am off to exercise and hopefully get some sun. This winter while we have not had snow or ice has actually been much harsher on my SADS than the last two. Prior to this past week we had went 3 weeks without any sun. It caught up with me with fatigue, no energy, and an 8 pound weight gain. :( My doctor claims in my case I am extremely sun dependent to keep my metabolism engaged. He describes that periods without sun my metabolism shuts down and I go in a state of hibernation. It may be hard for you to believe. But true story, I put most of my excess weight on in a 4 year period of time, approximately 100 lbs, and when it came on it would load up in a very short time. I could feel it happening but could not stop it. I actually gained 25 lbs 3 years in a row and all with in a 10 day period after long lapse in sun. And get this, I was going 6 days a week to a personal trainer and consulting with a Dietitian. This went on for 4 years before a doctor finally diagonoised it and made recommendations. Of which I followed from 2002 to 2009 but have been unable to do the last several years. This trip to Florida was a short non planned after the impact of the recent weeks. I probably wrote more than some wanted to hear. But do not take SADS lightly. It is a real deal and a big issue with some individuals. A friend of ours young niece has been impacted with it this winter and she is a young lady of 22. she is very upset over a huge 20 lbs weight gain in a short period of a month.

January 02, 2015 5:38:51 AM

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition and not understood by many. I was finally diagonised with it in 2002 after several bad winters in a row. It affects individuals different just like any other disorder. In my case weeks on end without sun result is huge weight gain. Yes I have the light and it does help. But it is not the real thing. The last two winters while we encountered colder weather and more snow were actually two of my better winters. I have learned with the SADS that snow is my best friend in the winter. Oh I don't like it for trucking but with the SADS it is a huge help. While the sky is gloomy and ugly as the snow storm moves in the after effect is awesome. the snow cleans the air, sky, plutants, etc. After a decent snow the air and sky are very crisp. Typically very sunny and the sun reflecting off the snow counteracts the pre snow conditions. I am actually leaving Saturday to go to Florida. We have a friend that has a gym and he is a personal trainer. So I am off to exercise and hopefully get some sun. This winter while we have not had snow or ice has actually been much harsher on my SADS than the last two. Prior to this past week we had went 3 weeks without any sun. It caught up with me with fatigue, no energy, and an 8 pound weight gain. :( My doctor claims in my case I am extremely sun dependent to keep my metabolism engaged. He describes that periods without sun my metabolism shuts down and I go in a state of hibernation. It may be hard for you to believe. But true story, I put most of my excess weight on in a 4 year period of time, approximately 100 lbs, and when it came on it would load up in a very short time. I could feel it happening but could not stop it. I actually gained 25 lbs 3 years in a row and all with in a 10 day period after long lapse in sun. And get this, I was going 6 days a week to a personal trainer and consulting with a Dietitian. This went on for 4 years before a doctor finally diagonoised it and made recommendations. Of which I followed from 2002 to 2009 but have been unable to do the last several years. This trip to Florida was a short non planned after the impact of the recent weeks. I probably wrote more than some wanted to hear. But do not take SADS lightly. It is a real deal and a big issue with some individuals. A friend of ours young niece has been impacted with it this winter and she is a young lady of 22. she is very upset over a huge 20 lbs weight gain in a short period of a month.

January 02, 2015 5:38:44 AM

If there is no sunlight, I use the full spectrum lightbulbs at home. Vitamin D supplements help also since that is what sunlight makes in your body.

December 31, 2014 18:44:31 PM

I think the Bahamas sounds like a great idea Jeff.

December 31, 2014 8:23:20 AM

Cross Country skiing works well, but the Bahamas might be nice.

December 30, 2014 6:44:31 AM