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How to Beat the Dark-Days Blues

How to Beat the Dark-Days Blues

If you’re one of the many people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), you probably weren’t celebrating your free “extra” hour when you made the Daylight Savings switch recently. Instead, you were probably wondering how to cope now that we’re in the days of waking up in the dark and coming home from work in the dark.

Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, plenty of us start to feel draggy and lackluster after enough gray days and early nights. So what can you do to combat the gloom?

Here are some ways to beat the dark-days blues:

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Take extra-good care of yourself.

When you don’t feel your physical best, it can be even harder to feel emotionally well. Help your mood by keeping yourself in good health. Get enough sleep at night, make sure to eat healthy, balanced meals, and find a regular exercise plan that works for you. Also keep yourself protected against seasonal illness by getting a flu shot, washing your hands frequently, and keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk to avoid office germs.

Keep your surroundings bright.

Make sure the rooms in your house are properly lit. If there are any dim spots, consider adding another table or floor lamp. At work, if your overall office environment is dark, get a lamp for your desk to make your personal area brighter.

Get outside whenever you can.

Whenever the weather permits, spend some time outside. Take your dogs for a walk, play a game with your kids, or just enjoy sitting in the fresh air for a little while. Even if the day is overcast, outdoor light can still make you feel better—not to mention the fact that just getting out into nature after being stuck indoors can cheer you up, too.

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Try light therapy.

There’s a reason we feel brought down by the cold months, apart from the monotony of gray skies and long evenings. Human beings absorb vitamin D through exposure to UV-B rays found in sunlight—and when we’re not getting as much sunlight every day, it can result in feelings of depression and lack of energy.

Light boxes mimic the light you’d receive from the sun, which can affect the chemicals in your brain that regulate mood. Just sitting a few feet away from a light box for half an hour each day can help improve SAD symptoms. (Check with your health care provider for specific instructions, as they often advise you do light therapy during certain periods of the day.) Light boxes can be a little pricey, but if they can improve your daily mood and energy levels over the long, dark months, it’s worth it.

Take natural supplements.

Melatonin is believed to help treat the symptoms of SAD by regulating your sleep-wake cycle, which can be disrupted when daylight hours get shorter. (Again, you may need to take melatonin at specific points of the day for it to be most effective, so check with your physician.) Vitamin D supplements can also help replenish the nutrients you’re no longer getting from sunlight.

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Exercise.

I know; it may feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling blah, but regular physical activity can actually give you more energy by getting you up off the couch and moving. It’s also a great way to work out some negative emotions. Try something fun and peppy like Zumba to lift your mood, something calming like yoga to relieve stress and center your thoughts, or something like kick boxing to release pent-up anger and frustration.

Avoid alcohol.

Not only does it slow you down and make you feel more groggy, but also (as anyone who’s nursed a breakup over a bottle of wine can tell you) alcohol can just enhance your negative feelings and make you feel even worse.

See your doctor if your feelings are too much.

The symptoms of SAD are very similar to the symptoms of depression, so if your mood continues to worsen or you start to have thoughts of hopelessness or suicide, seek professional help immediately. You may need to be put on medication to help regulate your moods and might also benefit from counseling.

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If you’re in doubt whether you should seek help or not? Always opt for “yes.”

Featured photo credit: Cracked land and the lightning via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on August 6, 2018

10 Benefits of Deadlifts You Probably Never Knew

10 Benefits of Deadlifts You Probably Never Knew

The Deadlift. It is the quintessential weightlifting exercise. According to David Robson, a bodybuilder, personal trainer and contributor to Bodybuilding.com,

“In my experience as an athlete, and based on the results witnessed by many of my personal training clients, the deadlift, if performed correctly, will build unparalleled mass while strengthening all the major muscles groups.

Yes, many will argue that the squat is the King of Exercises, and will contribute to more strength and size gains than any other exercise.

While it is true that the squat does rank as one of the best size builders (and on this basis alone should be included in everyone’s program), the deadlift, in my opinion, builds the upper and lower body like no other movement.”

The deadlift is done by simply grasping your free-weight bar (with as many weights as you can feasibly – not comfortably – lift) and lifting up until your standing up with the bar hanging in front of you, arms extended.

1. Increased Fat Burning

Alwyn Cosgrove, a personal trainer and fitness author, recently wrote about a study where: “Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.”

Lifting weights and resistance training will burn more fat than just dieting or dieting with cardio exercise alone.

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2. Better Posture

Deadlifting increases your core strength and adds to core stability, according to Robson. Deadlifting targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities.

3. More Muscles Worked

The Deadlift works more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat. The lift engages all of the major muscle groups, according to exercise physiologist Kevin Farley. If you need to do one exercise, this is the one to do. The Deadlift works your lower and upper body, including your back muscles.

4. Increased Real Life Lift

When you do other lifting exercises, like a bench press, for example, you’re not doing anything you might really do in real life. When are you ever going to have the need to lay on your back and push something in the air — unless you’re giving your two-year-old “flying lessons.” The Deadlift develops the muscles you need to actually carry something, like a bucket of water, those heavy grocery bags or your neighbor’s dining room table.

5. It’s Safe

The Deadlift is one of the safest weightlifting exercises you can perform. You aren’t going to get pinned under the weight or have to worry about it pulling you over backwards. If you get into trouble, you can simply drop it…making for a loud bang, no doubt, but no damage. You also don’t have to have a spotter to perform this exercise.

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6. Improved Grip Strength

According to Outlaw Fitness:

“Deadlifts are renowned for their ability to build massive amounts of grip strength, and for good reason. Your fingers are literally the only things connecting you to the weight of the bar. Your forearms have to work incredibly hard as you progress in weight to keep the bar from falling out of your hands. Subsequently your grip strength grows by leaps and bounds.”

7. Increases Hormones

Now don’t worry, these aren’t the hormones that will make you more emotional! Instead, by doing at least 8 to 10 repetitions of Deadlifts with significant weight, you can increase the amount of testosterone and growth hormone produced by your body.

Testosterone increases muscle growth and improves muscle repair while growth hormone, which is produced by your pituitary gland, promotes tissue healing, bone strength, muscle growth and fat loss.

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8. Cheap and Easy

A lot of exercises require a lot of equipment, special shoes or whatever. Not the Deadlift. Just a bar with some weight. Pick it up. Simple. You can usually find freeweights and a bar at a thrift store – or being given away by a friend – making it even cheaper.

9. Increased Cardio

Believe it or not, doing 10 repetitions of Deadlifts will increase your cardiovascular ability. You might want to make sure you have somewhere to sit down when you’re done!

10. Prevents Injury

The Deadlift can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength of your muscles around critical tendons and ligaments. Supporting joints with strong muscles is crucial to preventing injury, especially in the hamstrings and lower back, according to Outlaw Fitness.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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