Anxiety and the Connection to the Cold Weather

In the winter months it is difficult to do the things we need to do to stay healthy. Exercising by walking or being outside is a chore, which leaves us with little motivation, energy and somewhat anxious or depressed. The amount of sunlight in our northern Alberta communities is minimal and the impact of the lack of exercise and sunlight often leaves a person feelings melancholy. We know that depression and anxiety rise in the winter months and Seasonal Affective Disorder is serious. According to the May Clinic, ’‘Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you are like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”

SAD includes feels depressed, but it can also include feelings of being anxious. One of the reasons for this is because of the lack of exercise and blood flow. Another reason is because of the lack of vitamin D that most people receive from the sun naturally when they are outside. Throughout the small amounts of time most of us who are outside in the winter months we tend to be so covered up that the sun does not hit our skin, making it difficult for our bodies to absorb it. Also, in our community in Grande Prairie we have less sunlight throughout the winter months. Unfortunately, this only breads depression and anxiety.

On a good note, there are things that we can do to prevent anxiety and depression in the winter.   We can make going outside a priority. We can go for a walk (even if we bundle ourselves up like a newborn baby).

  • We can find things we enjoy indoors. Doing things that we enjoy will make us happier and will make looking at the positive things in our lives much easier to do.
  • Practice some sort of spiritual grounding or breathing exercises, like meditating, or yoga. Slowing down your breathing can slow down the anxiety and help you to feel more relaxed and at ease. Be mindful of your breathing and listen to your breath.
  • Spend time with people that are healthy for you to be around. Having a positive emotional support is important for adequate self-care.

Do not minimize the importance of Seasonal affective disorder and anxiety because they can be serious. On the bright side, it can be managed in an effective manner. We have an influence over how we feel.

Please do take the time to see your doctor if you feel you cannot manage your anxiety or depression and seek therapy support to help with processing and changing the way you are or have been coping if it is not getting better.


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