It’s that time of year again, folks! The days are getting a little shorter, the air is getting a little colder, and people are getting a little more irritable. Winter is coming! If you’ve noticed yourself getting into a bit of a funk over the past few weeks, it might be more than just the cold weather getting you down.

If you’ve been a little more on edge than usual recently, tired and groggy all day, and feeling stuck in a rut, it may be due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD, in a beautiful coincidence of wordplay) – it’s the psychological equivalent of a winter case of the sniffles. SAD is a state of mind brought on by the changes in our environment as winter closes in and the days get shorter.

Some scientists believe that SAD began with our ancient ancestors, who had less access to food during winter months, so they adapted to conserve energy in colder climates. This is often compared to Hibernation habits in other mammals like bears and rodents. In the modern day, those biological processes aren’t necessary to keep us comfortable, and just end up throwing us off.

You see, when we get less sunlight, our biological clocks start to tick out of time, and that can lead to changes in your sleep schedule and increased stress throughout your day. The lack of natural light also affects the way that your body produces Serotonin – the chemical your brain creates which causes happiness and feelings of belonging in social groups, so it’s common to feel a little angrier, and more down than usual as the weather gets colder.

Thankfully, SAD is, as its name suggests, seasonal. You’ll start to feel better as soon as spring starts moving in! If you’re having trouble dealing with the lack of sunlight, there are a few ways to try and get your biological clock back into rhythm. First off, try taking some time to sit by a window or walk outside (weather permitting) every day. That little boost in sunlight intake might be the push your brain needs to get back into a healthy mindset. If that’s not enough, you can look into Light Therapy, which uses special lights designed to mimic the sun, so you can fool your body into re-regulating its serotonin levels and getting your circadian rhythm back on track.

If your symptoms keep persisting, you should make an appointment to talk to your doctor and make sure that you’re really dealing with SAD. What works for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder won’t work on more serious long-term issues such as depression and anxiety, even though the symptoms can be similar. For more information on how non-seasonal mental conditions can affect life insurance prices, you can check out our blog about depression.


Photo credit to: Didier Baertschiger

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