Not all of us are lucky enough to live in a sunny, warm climate. For some,when winter hits, the snowfall inhibits our desire to leave the house. Yet, it may not be as simple as the lack of motivation. The bitter cold and dreary days can cause a myriad of issues in the body and mind.
Indoor Air Quality and Heat
Since most of us keep our windows shut and stay indoors with a furnace running during the winter, our air quality isn’t all that great. Just think of all the germs of sneezes staying put with nowhere to escape.
The heat from furnaces coupled with the lack of moisture in the air during winter spells out trouble for our bodies. Allergies surface from dust within furnace air ducts.
Skin tends to dry out, which moisturizers can help. Staying hydrated will help limit sore throats from forced hot air units. Sometimes humidifiers can help, but cool mist ones are safest with children in the house. Yet, too much moisture in air can cause mold = more allergy problems.
Lacking a Gift from the Sun
The lack of Vitamin D can cause havoc to the body. A 2007 Harvard article suggests “…vitamin D may have an important role in many aspects of human health, from bone fractures to prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, neuromuscular problems, and diabetes.”
Besides the natural way we tend to absorb Vitamin D (through sunlight), changes in diet using fortified foods, or taking supplements will help. The most common population who run low on Vitamin D: People over 50, those taking certain medications, or those who generally do not go outside or when they do – they use sunscreen regularly.
A Double -Edged Sword
One doesn’t have to compromise their skin protection in order to get enough Vitamin D. Being aware of your susceptibility is half the battle.
Harvard Health Newsletter states “It doesn’t take much, but people living north of the 37-degree-latitude line — roughly the imaginary line between Philadelphia and San Francisco — can’t get enough UVB in winter to do the trick.”
Taking supplements or regularly eating shell fish, tuna, halibut, or salmon can help versus exposing your skin to harmful rays.
Although you may feel the bitter cold is responsible for your mood, Vitamin D deficiency may be the culprit. Seasonal depression (SAD) can happen most often in winter and many don’t realize the lack of vitamin D (absorbed into our body by sunlight) can effect a frame of mind. A 2014 study shows the link between SAD and Vitamin deficiency.
If you’ve become isolated because of weather conditions or your area is generally low on sunlight, you may need a Sanity Tool Kit.
Some Suggestions for Your Sanity Tool Kit:
A Light box
Vitamin D supplements
At least one friend you can call/text that raises your mood
Your area’s Mental Health Hotline number (if you don’t have a therapist)
Distractions: The computer, gaming system, books, puzzles, etc.
Obviously, a person needs to become aware of their own cycle of moods and talk to professionals about changes associated with low sunlight. Keeping a diary will help twofold: it will allow someone to freely share their thoughts/feelings, which is cathartic in itself. Secondly, it can give a clear record of the correlation between weather patterns and mood changes.
*Always check with your doctor before taking any supplement, since they can cause problems with medications you’re already taking or for clarification on how much you personally need to take. Everyone is different and Vitamin D taken in large doses can cause more health problems and even death, if not taken properly.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, seek out help. Talk to your doctor who can guide you in the right direction or if in an emergency, call your area’s Mental Health Hotline.