Have you ever noticed that your mental health patterns can change at different times throughout the year? If you tune in to how you’re feeling, you might realize that you experience increased stress in the winter. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. The fact that an estimated 10 million Americans experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), illustrates that. With this many of us battling with increased depression, anxiety, or stress in the winter, it’s validating to know that there’s a scientific reason behind it, and helpful to know that there are also many ways to cope with it.
Why Do We Feel Increased Stress in the Winter?
We know that shorter days and less sunlight makes us feel sleepy, but did you know that’s because our melatonin production changes in the winter? When we get plenty of sunlight, our melatonin production is down, because we’re naturally meant to be awake during the day and asleep during the night. When there’s less sunlight, our bodies produce more melatonin, the hormone that tells us it’s time for sleep. No wonder we’re much more tired!
If you need an example of how nature intended us to spend the winter, look to the animal kingdom. Animals use the winter as a time of rest and replenishment, but as a society, we can’t bring everything to a halt for three months out of the year. While we’re feeling nature’s pull telling us to sleep more and stay inside where it’s warm, we must brave the cold and go to work, school, and participate in other activities that keep the world moving. So, what can we do?
Ways to Cope with Increased Stress in the Winter
Regular Exercise can help with a lot of health struggles, including those of mental health. It’s no surprise that when it comes to fighting your increased stress in the winter, regular exercise is at the top of the to-do list. Your movement doesn’t have to be strenuous. If you don’t feel like running outside, that’s okay! You can dance in your living room, walk on a treadmill, or get your heart rate up by cleaning and rearranging your furniture.
Therapy of all kinds! Massage therapy, acupuncture, and working with a mental health professional are all ways to achieve better stress management. Therapists can help you learn healthy methods of dealing with stress.
Get some sleep. Decrease your screen time before bed, as the blue light can influence your melatonin production. Try using essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus to calmly and quietly meditate and find calm before bed. Draw the curtains and maintain a consistent sleep schedule, and you’ll be pleased to find that better sleep means lower stress.
Strengthen Baltimore’s Youth with MissionFit!
At MissionFit, we recognize the fact that community, family, and healthy social relationships are essential to setting goals. We are highly dedicated to strengthening Baltimore youth through classes and an open gym. It’s our goal to encourage positive traits, like respect and teamwork, and provide children with a place to gain self-confidence and enjoy some exercise. To learn more about our classes or donate to support our mission, visit our website. We’re making health a possibility and a priority for Baltimore’s youth and helping to foster more black leaders from Baltimore. If you want to support youth programs in Baltimore, here are two easy ways to do so through MissionFit:
Donate here if you believe community, family, and relationships impact health!
You can put your online shopping to good use by donating a percentage of your purchase with AmazonSmile! To get started, sign in here, search for “MissionFit” and select us as your charity of choice.