Happiness is an inside job. And on the flip side of that coin, depression — a mood disorder — is a condition that also primarily originates from inside our minds. Happiness is an action word. It requires a decision. And happiness does not have to wait.
Take the winter months, for example. If you are an outdoor enthusiast — and we assume you are if you’re perusing our NCOAE website — you know the true meaning of “winter blues.” Often, we find ourselves cooped up inside, postponing our happiness until the spring.
When it’s unbearably cold, windy, and wet outside, many of us feel out of sorts. We’re moody, have no energy, and we’re eager to get outside. Unfavorable weather conditions often put a halt to those plans, or seriously limit our participation.
Doctors have a name for this mental anguish, and it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We’re not trying to be cute or funny here, because it really is SAD. It’s a form of depression that is directly related to changes in season, usually beginning in the late fall and continuing throughout the winter months.
Doctors put part of the blame on the decrease in sunlight in fall and winter that can disrupt your internal clock. That same lack of sun beams can prompt a drop in serotonin — a chemical in the brain that affects mood. Finally, the seasonal change can increase the production of melatonin — a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle in the body and plays a big role in sleep patterns.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of SAD may include: (more…)
When it comes to staying connected with outdoor activities — even in the dead of winter — the important thing is to dig deep, don’t procrastinate, and most important, remain consistent.
There’s an old expression that I just made up and it goes like this: You can’t stay full on yesterday’s hotdog. What does that mean? It means you can’t depend on memories of your summer wilderness experiences to keep you sharp during these “couch potato” months.
Staying sharp means using the wintertime to take on micro expeditions and stay connected with the outdoors.
Daylight Savings Time, a 9-to-5-job, freezing weather and endless offerings on subscription-based TV are all basic ingredients when you’re preparing a “couch potato.” However, if you are looking to stay fit until next spring, it’s time to come up with a better recipe.
Which is why those of us who hunker inside NCOAE headquarters on a regular basis came up with some excellent tips to keep you at your physical and mental peak during the winter months.
Here are the results of those brainstorming sessions: (more…)