You’ve likely heard of the “winter blues.” That ‘not-quite-bad-enough-to-be-clinical-depression-but-still-got-you-down-thing’ that happens around this time of year when many of us feel less motivated and social, more tired and hungry, (particularly for foods rich in carbohydrates).
The winter blues play havoc with your mind and moods, and make you not want to participate in the things you normally love to do.
Many factors trigger the winter blues. The two biggest culprits are a ‘hang-over’ from the busy, hectic, and over-indulgent holiday you just experienced, and a lack of sunlight due to shorter days.
In winter, even in sunny San Luis Obispo County, the sun comes up later and goes down earlier, preventing us from getting as much sunlight on our skin. We Californians know better than most—sun is medicine! Yet with shorter days and increased workloads that keep us out of the sun, even we can fall prone to a slight depression “rut.”
The sun and its interaction with chemicals in our body help create and maintain our circadian rhythms. When the sun comes up later and goes down earlier we’re likely producing melatonin, the chemical that helps regulate our sleep, for more hours in a given day. That’ll make us tired and sluggish, (similar to “jet lag”).
So what do you do with these “blues”?
A common prescription that works really well is light therapy. Patients are provided a light-emitting box (brighter than indoor light) and told to sit in front of it for 30 minutes per day. According to the National Institute of Health, 70% of patients receiving this therapy recover from their symptoms.
But, who has 30 extra minutes every day to just sit in front of a box?! That can really put a strain on one’s schedule and cut out time for other important things, like preparing healthy, home-cooked meals and exercise!
Drugs can be prescribed when light therapy doesn’t fit the situation. But, as you know, drugs come with side effects. Even if the side effects are manageable, shouldn’t we be looking for a more natural, healthy, and sustainable solution?
Yes! Here it is: exercise and sunshine! And you can have both for FREE!
We’re very fortunate on the Central Coast to still have beautiful sunshine during winter days, (unlike upstate New York…). However, it won’t do any good if you’re not outside, putting it to good use.
With the shorter days you have to exert more effort into your “sunshine seeking.” I recommend that everyone get outside on their lunch break and “take their medicine” by being active in the daylight at least three days per week, preferably five.
Put on some shorts and a short-sleeve shirt and head down the road for 8 to 20 minutes, then turn around and come back. (This is a good time for professional development with an audiobook playing over your headphones.) If it’s cold, skip the shorts, but try to leave your arms bare, soaking up those life-enhancing rays.
That’s amazing multi-tasking: you’re getting the healthy effects of sun and exercise, and learning all at the same time! You’re welcome!
Now, what if you could add to this healthy prescription a dose of altruism??
The Miracle Miles for Kids 10K Walk/Run is coming up April 21, 2018. What better way to train for the event than get outside a few days per week and soak up some rays while improving your walking/running stamina? Again, you’re welcome!
And if you’d like help with your running technique, or you’d like to learn how to improve your foot and leg strength to prevent those nagging running injuries, I’m hosting two running workshops here at Athlon Fitness & Performance for registrants of the Miracle Miles event. In these workshops, we’ll learn simple but very effective drills to keep your feet, legs, and hips healthy for distance running/walking and we’ll learn correct running technique, so you’re more efficient with your movement and can enjoy running even more!
Please join us! But sign-up soon. We can only handle 12 participants in each session. Go to www.SLORunTraining.com.
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