Bored, grumpy, tired, and unmotivated—that’s how many feel during the short days of winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a yearly issue for some where others experience it only once or twice in their lifetimes. Either way, it can be very disruptive.Remain Active
Although perhaps the best way to avoid seasonal depression is to travel—or reside—in a warmer, sunnier climate, this isn’t always an option for everyone. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a few tricks to help you survive the darker, shorter days. Here are a few methods that have been shown to help, however, this is not intended as medical advice for severe or extended periods of depression.
Go Outside and Get Some Sunlight
Research has shown that getting fresh air and sunshine improves resilience to colds and flu, as well as boosts moods. This is partly due to the benefit of vitamin D that sun exposure provides. Even a few minutes outside can make a big difference.
If you can’t get outside, at least open the shades and let in some sun, preferably before you get out of bed. Just like mine, your RV likely has windows near the bed with some sort of shade to provide privacy and keep the light out while you sleep. Open those babies up! Once you feel more awake, go around and raise the rest. This has the added benefit of warming your residence and lowering heating expenses.
Start moving. Studies have shown—and many can attest—that daily exercise improves your mood by increasing the brain chemicals responsible for feeling happy. Plus, being active provides you with additional energy and reduces stress. This is a fantastic reason to take to the trails because, if you do this outside, you reap the vitamin D benefits of the sun, as well.
That said, you don’t have to do an hour of strenuous cardio or weightlifting to see benefits. If you feel blue, get up and take the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning of your RV’s interior. Consider it a “pre-spring cleaning”, even if you don’t feel like it. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how much better you feel and your place will be spotless! That’s just one way to stay active throughout the season.
Although a daily multi-vitamin is a good idea (in my opinion anyway), the three that have shown the greatest effect on wintertime blues are vitamin B complex, Omega 3, and vitamin D (see above).
Vitamin B affects the metabolism. By boosting this, you will feel more alert and energetic, thereby, less depressed. Eating cheese, eggs, and red meat is one way to introduce more of this comprehensive supplement into your system.
Omega 3 fatty-acids are practically essential to maintaining positive energy throughout the darker months. Eating fatty fish is one way to achieve this. If you don’t like fish, you can take fish oil supplements. Along with fighting depression, these are reputedly good for your heart.
As previously mentioned, vitamin D is important for warding off depression. It’s also known for strengthening bones and muscles like the heart. Since the primary source of vitamin D is from sunlight, it can be difficult to maintain optimal levels even if you do get outside regularly. Very few foods naturally supply this vitamin, but eggs, salmon and sardines, plus fortified cereals and milks do. This is why supplementation may be beneficial.
Plan a Trip
Sometimes just the hope of better times can improve your spirits and put a spring in your step. If you can’t travel during the winter months due to work, finances, or family obligations, begin making plans now for when you can. Be specific with the location, set a date, and start setting small obtainable goals to get there.
Possibly the second leading cause of SAD is isolation. People just don’t venture out as often when the weather is cold or snowy (unless they live in Minnesota and those people THRIVE in it!). So, make plans with your neighboring RVers, or other friends and family members to spend time socializing once a week or so. Consider joining a “Meet-Up” group of people with common interests. This ensures that you don’t have to be alone unless you want to be.
SAD is a real phenomenon that many people experience without even realizing it. If you find yourself feeling a bit low during winter (or even during a particularly rainy season in the Pacific Northwest) many of these methods could help. Combine a few or all of them for maximum relief, and remember, spring is just around the corner!