We all notice the weather changing as the dog days of summer fade away and the vibrant green leaves of the trees change colors. It's not uncommon to feel exhausted or down when the seasons change. The weather affects the human body not just physiologically but psychologically. Here are some relatively simple, yet important tips to beat the cold weather blues.
1) Go out for coffee (or tea) with friends.
Warm beverages are refreshing on a cold day. The empirical study Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth, found that a warm beverage activates insula in the body, which increases positive emotions like empathy and trust. This sense of physical and interpersonal warmth can aid in a positive social environment, or social contacts. (Williams & Bargh, 2008, p. 607)
2) Go for a walk.
This may sound like a daunting task considering it's hard enough to get out of bed and outside on a nippy day. However, the benefits can be significant. Walking isn’t just healthy exercise, it also releases endorphins. It may also help one get centered and focused in order to perform tasks at a later time with optimal efficiency. Dr. Robert Thayer the author of Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood with Food and Exercise, found in a study that there's a direct correlation between the amount of steps a person takes and their happiness (Thayer, 2003).
3) Always find time for laughter.
You may be feeling the stress of the holidays sinking in. Always find time for laughter. Keep in mind that things may not be as bad as they seem. Watch a classic comedy or go out with your friends. Laughter truly is nature’s antidepressant. The Physiological and Psychological Effects of the Expression and Inhibition of Emotion is a study that found not only does laughter have a positive psychological effect on the mood, but it boosts the immune system which is much needed in the colder flu season months (Labott et al. 1990).
Be mindful that life is all about perspective. Don’t think of the season change as a negative. The green leaves that turn colors and fall back down to the earth lay at the same spot where the great big tree was once a small seedling. New growth and opportunities can continue. The leaves rejuvenate the soil for new life and new opportunity to come. What new opportunity could you be looking forward to?
CATHRYN E. KNEZEVICH, M.ED., LPCC DBT IOP DIRECTOR