If you live on the mainland and your mood, sleep quality, and energy levels dip along with the temperature, you are not alone. Many people feel extra cranky and sluggish around this time of the year. Our days become shorter and darker when the Earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. This lack of sunlight can mess with our circadian rhythms and throw our bodies out of whack.
While you can’t change the Earth’s tilt, there are plenty of things you can do to cope with the shorter, darker days ahead. Read on for a few helpful strategies to keep your spirits up during the fall and winter months.
Maintain good sleep hygiene
Fewer hours of daylight in the fall and winter can wreak havoc on your body’s sleep-wake cycle. That is because the sky darkens earlier in the fall and winter, which triggers the production of melatonin and makes you feel more tired and groggy than usual.
To counteract these symptoms, focus on maintaining good sleep hygiene with these simple tips:
– Keep a consistent bedtime.
– Stop using your electronics at least one hour before bedtime.
– Make your bedroom pitch black by using blackout blinds or wearing a weighted eye mask to bed.
– Avoid taking long naps (i.e., more than 30 minutes).
Between the darkness and the cold weather, finding the motivation to stay active can be extra challenging around this time of year. Pumping yourself up for a run in the rain or snow may be difficult, but getting regular exercise is vital in the autumn and winter — especially if you struggle with the “winter blues.” Working out for just 35 minutes a day can significantly reduce your odds of depression, even if you’re genetically predisposed to the condition.
The key to staying active in the fall and winter is finding an activity that excites you to get moving. Consider taking up a seasonal activity like hiking, strapping on a pair of snowshoes, or going sledding with the family.
Get more light exposure
The type and amount of lighting we get in the colder months can hugely impact our mood, sleep, appetite, concentration, and many other facets of our daily lives. A lack of light can cause an overproduction of melatonin and serotonin, causing a chemical imbalance that makes you feel low and lethargic.
Fortunately, research has shown that exposing yourself to early morning light can go a long way in helping reduce depressive symptoms. So to sneak more sunlight into your day, open your blinds first thing in the morning and take a midday stroll on your lunch break.
Consider light therapy if you live in an area with little to no sunlight in the winter. These days, many inexpensive light therapy boxes are designed to mimic outdoor light and give your body the light it craves.
Balance social time with alone time
Spending time with friends and family is a tried-and-true way of lifting your spirits during the colder, darker months. So schedule time with the people you love and nurture your relationships. You will feel much better about it!
On the other hand, the cold season also coincides with the holidays, which can be a stressful time due to increased family obligations and holiday activities. Set aside some “alone time” for yourself if you’re stressed. Alone time gives you a much-needed opportunity to recharge your depleted batteries so that you can look at things from a more positive perspective.
Train yourself to think positively
Speaking of positive mindsets, training your brain to think positively during the cold months is key to staying sane in the fall and winter. Research shows that positive thinking can provide myriad mental and physical health benefits, including lower stress and better immune responses.
Here are a few ways you can train your brain to look on the bright side:
– Keep a gratitude journal.
– Try to find the good in adverse situations.
– Practice reframing (e.g., instead of stressing about the cold weather keeping you inside all season long, think about how cozy your movie nights will be).
– Take action and learn how to move forward from adverse events.
Eat the right foods
Once summer ends, many of us start reaching for carb-heavy foods such as pasta, mashed potatoes, and dessert breads. Unfortunately, as delicious as these comfort foods may be, they are often loaded with sugar, fat, and refined carbohydrates that can cause your blood sugar to spike, negatively impacting your mood and energy levels.
The good news is that there are plenty of comfort foods that can satisfy your cold-weather cravings without derailing your diet. For example, a winter stew that’s light on meat and potatoes and heavy on vegetables and beans can be a healthy way to warm up on a cold day.
Take a Hawaiian Vacation
The ultimate fix for lack of sunlight is to go where the sun shines year-round. And what better place can you find for it than Hawaii? Due to its location close to the Equator, the difference between the longest and the shortest days in Hawaii is only 2 hours and 36 minutes.
Hawaii’s longest and shortest days are about 13 1/2 hours and 11 hours. Uniform day lengths result in minor seasonal variations in incoming solar radiation and temperature. Living here, you almost don’t notice that the days are shorter in the wintertime. Perfect climate, plenty of sunshine, and warm ocean are the best cure for seasonal depression and recharging your batteries.
Save on your Hawaii vacation rental
Remember, you can always save 10% on your vacation rental when you book direct with us and mention “Aloha escape” in your reservation.
We hope to see you soon – a hui hou!