Some of us may feel like we’re in more of a “funk” during the dark and dreary days of the wintertime here in the Midwest. It’s not uncommon; while some may know this as the “winter blues” other more extreme symptoms can actually be identified as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD) and may potentially require treatment by a medical professional, if becoming a hindrance to everyday life.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Rosenthal, author of “Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder” about 6 percent of Americans are affected by SAD, and another 14 percent are experiencing a lesser form known as the winter blues.

Some of these signs and symptoms can seem subtle, but they are prevalent in many who are affected. For example, sleeping longer hours in the winter, feeling more sluggish or tired, lacking concentration or focus, especially on days without visible sunlight. Others may also have increased cravings for junk food or starchy foods, or gain weight. Socially, it becomes more common for individuals to withdraw from family members and friends.

Sound like some common symptoms? Here are some things that might be able to help with kicking the winter blues / SAD*

Establishing a regular routine. Especially for sleeping, waking, eating and exercising. These will help your body’s circadian rhythm continue with more fluidity than a constantly changing schedule.

Incorporate more foods with Vitamin D, and/or consider a daily supplement. Most adults, especially in the northern cities of the world, do not get enough Vitamin D, or are very likely deficient. Vitamin D-rich foods like eggs, milk, salmon, tuna and mushrooms are a great start to increasing levels, but that still may not be enough. Aiming for 2000-IU of Vitamin D per day is a great start, and possibly more if there is a deficiency. Deficiencies can be tested with blood work by your regular doctor.

Consider light box therapy. Research from Harvard Health indicates that incorporating light box therapy can help with mood, concentration and energy. Light boxes are portable and small, and exposure to it can mimic the light of the sun/warmer seasons of the year, without the UV exposure. Just 30-90 minutes a day, especially in the morning, can improve symptoms of SAD.

Move more, especially if you can get outside! The human body loves movement and exercise. If you are able to get outside for a walk on a sunny day, layer up and get moving. Incorporating regular weekly exercise also boosts mood with that post-workout endorphin high, leaving you feeling re-energized and re-motivated to keep hustling through the day.

Spend more time being active: physically, mentally and socially. If you are able to spend more time with loved ones, challenging your mind with different tasks and exercises, rather than zoning out in front of a television screen, these can all add up to kick those winter blues!

Here at CrossFit Des Plaines, we’ve got Bring a Friend week happening all month long. So grab a friend and get to our gym to try a class with us this week!

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