Written by Jack Boardman
It’s that time of year when winter blues takes its toll. But what contributes to being down in the dumps once the summer is over, and what can you do to keep a skip in your step? The winter blues can be a combination of stress-related things, but the season has an effect on you in ways you might not have realised. Between the longer nights and glib weather you’re more confined to the indoors and there’s always a cold being passed around the workplace.
Your first cure to the winter blues is exercise. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, and also improve your ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
A low to moderate intensity workout will help you to feel more energised and in better spirits. It is proven that regular aerobic exercise can decrease tension and elevate mood, all of which, in turn, have a very positive effect on your self-esteem and ability to deal with stress in the first place.
But what else helps with the winter blues?
A lack of vitamin D – common in the UK during the autumn and winter months – has been associated with increased symptoms of depression, according to a new study. Vitamin D has been associated with dopamine levels, a chemical linked to mood, in the brain as well as health benefits for the bones, muscles and heart.
Don’t ever say you get nothing for free; a glorious (and free) source of vitamin D is from sunlight exposure. During summer and spring in the middle months in the UK when the days are longer and regular sunshine is almost, sort of guaranteed your body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. However, in the winter when the days are shorter and the cold weather prevails, that source of vitamin D takes a considerable hit.
Along with vitamin D, 5-HTP is a source of natural serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical created by your body and helps to balance mood. 5-HTP supplements are also taken to reduce symptoms of depression, treat migraines and sleep disorders, improve mood, and promote weight loss.
This brain chemical regulates mood, feelings of happiness and states of relaxation. It also indirectly gets converted into Melatonin which is primarily responsible for setting your “Biological Clock” which is linked to a good night’s sleep.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan) is a compound that the body makes from the amino acid tryptophan and is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. The amount of serotonin in the brain depends strongly on the levels and dietary intake of 5-HTP.
For mental health, it is considered by many a natural remedy for anxiety and panic attacks – both of which are suffered by many as a result of seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues. 5-HTP is suitable for anyone along with a routine of a good diet and exercise, all of which are a great way of keeping the winter blues at bay.