The end of the year is near, so it's no wonder it's dark and gloomy out there. Pic: Pexels.com

Hi, 5 Ways to Survive the Darkest Time of the Year

Winter has arrived to Oulu. The snow is crunchy, the wind is chilly, and the nights are long. It is well known that the darkness can impact our moods negatively. It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately shortened to SAD. SAD can cause you to feel fatigued, to overeat, and even to feel, well, sad.

But don’t worry, it’s not permanent and there are ways you can combat it. Here are five tips that can help you survive the gloomiest time of the year.

In English  | 

Text Marcelo Goldmann

Follow the light

This might be the most obvious of the five tips. The lack of sunlight is said to be one of the causes for SAD, thus chasing that light will be the best treatment. If there are days with a little bit of sun, step out for a moment (for example, during your lunch break) and absorb some of those sun rays. If there is absolutely no sun or your activities prevent you from being in the sunlight, you might want to consider getting a light therapy box, which mimics sunlight. Just 15 minutes of exposure to this light could improve your mood. 

Exercise

Exercise might be a no-brainer for many people, but for couch potatoes (such as yours truly), a little bit of exercise can make a huge difference in your mood. You can go jogging if the weather allows it, join an exercise class, sign up to a gym, or even workout from home. You only need 10–30 minutes of exercise per day to activate the endorphin centers in your brain that will give you a very needed mood boost.

Contact friends and family

Exercise is not the only way to activate the feel good -centers in your brain. Hanging out with your loved ones and having fun will also allow you to feel good. Go to that movie you want to see, ask a friend to join you for coffee, go out dancing, whatever activity fits you. Just try to keep the alcohol intake low or the hangover might compound with the darkness to make you feel miserable. Additionally, you can talk about your Winter Blues with your friends and family and realize you’re not alone; this will help you to feel less alone in this fight against darkness.

Consider taking vitamin D

We get vitamin D from the sun and during dark times, we get less of it. What we’re not sure of is how much benefit we actually get from ingested vitamin D. There are foods that naturally contain vitamin D, such as shrimp, egg yolks, and oily fish. Alternatively, you could try a multivitamin. Any of these might be what brings you back to your merry self, or they might only help marginally. However, there is no harm in eating healthy, i.e. eat your greens and some fruit. If you end up taking vitamin D supplements, don’t overdo it

Sleep well

Sleeping well is something we all want under every circumstance, but not all of us achieve. During the months with lots of daylight, we can get away with having less than ideal sleeping patterns. However, during the darkest times of the year, this becomes one of the main reasons why we feel tired or unmotivated. Plan a healthy sleeping routine that you can follow every day. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and try to get around 8 hours of sleep per night. The best part is that once you have a habit of healthy sleeping, you will feel more energized not only during the dark months but also all year round.

 

If you find that your Winter Blues is very severe and nothing seems to help, you might want to consider talking to a doctor. As previously mentioned, it usually goes away on its own as the sun returns. However, if you feel you can’t handle it on your own, there is absolutely no shame in asking for help.

Published 7.12.2018

Marcelo Goldmann

A doctoral student in chemical engineering at the University of Oulu. "Life is like a rubber duck, you gotta keep it afloat to see its splendor." Instagram: @sekultamies

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