“Oh, I can’t bear it anymore, it’s only four ‘o’clock and the whole area is so dark and chilly, very depressing, the whole city became sad as if someone is crying,” we might find ourselves thinking during winter. “The days are small and nights are long, I feel like a wounded bird”.
When fall arrived and the leaves started dropping from the trees in September, and geese fled to warmer countries, the days started shortening. Now in early January, winter seems long as the sad times always feel neverending. Part of this may be due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or, in layman’s terms, the winter blues.
Seasonal affective disorder is a disease that occurs during the winter season when days become shorter. The short days with chilly weather along with the lack of access to regular outdoor activities make people sad and depressed. It has been found that, usually, people get depressed at the same time of the year in successive years especially during the early fall or winter season. Increased sleep, appetite, craving for starchy food, and weight gain also come along with this disease in some patients.
What can we do to prevent seasonal affective disorder? If all of us look at ourselves, then we will see that all of us get some kind of winter blues. We cannot avoid it. Therefore, it is very important to devise some plan to avoid the winter blues. First of all, as we are missing the long days that we used to get in the summer season, we can change our light bulbs at home from soft white to daylight or cool white colour. The daily exposure to bright cool white light will be used as light therapy for us. Light therapy is a medically advised treatment for SAD. It is recommended to use it at the same time for the same amount of time. So, instead of looking at a white screen that is used for light therapy, it is much more convenient if we change all the light bulbs in our homes to cool white.
Also, walking outside of our home is important. It is reasonable to go outside in the early evening after supper with a loved one or with a pet. Walking will not only decrease the sadness, but it will make the body tired to get early sleep. It will also be part of aerobic exercise which is good for our health. Maintaining a daily sleep routine is also very crucial for winter blues. We should turn off all of our electronic devices including computers, smartphones, tablets, and televisions two hours before going to sleep if we can.
There is no end of hope in our lives. We need to know how to enjoy life. Instead of blaming the season, enjoy it to the fullest as long as it lasts. Who does not like to watch movies at home with a cup of coffee with loved ones snuggling under the comforter! So, don’t be gloomy in the winter. Invest a small amount of money for light bulbs, have an evening stroll and, in return, you will get an enormous benefit. Happy winter!
Since completing a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Foyez Haque worked in northern and southern Ontario as an epidemiologist for more than a decade. During his tenure with several health units in Canada, he was involved in numerous public health research activities including publications in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, he is employed with the Northern Health Region as a planning and decision support analyst.