Spring is the wonderful time for flowers, Easter and longer evenings. Following, of course is everyone’s favorite season summer, it’s warm, cute clothes, and cold beverages. Next we move into Fall with Halloween, pumpkin spice everything and the leaves are changing. But then there’s dreaded winter it’s cold, less sunshine and the winter blues. Yes, it is actually a real thing that even confuses scientists. We all love Christmas and New Year’s, but after that we just have to cross our fingers for an early spring.

So what exactly is the winter blues? It is actually known as seasonal affective disorder also called SAD (clearly planned out). Mentalhealthamerica.net says that it affects about 5% of the US population every year and gets worse the farther one lives from the equator. It can cause depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, overeating, irritability, loss of interest, and loneliness. That can clearly make winter so much worse than it already is.

So what causes it? Well researchers have narrowed it down to one thing, sunlight. Let’s begin with, because it’s so cold many of us stay inside for most of the day compared to the spring and summer months where we are soaking in the warm air. In the winter we are much more likely to stay in bed longer and watch TV than in the summer. Next, there’s the fact that the sun is out about 4 hours shorter than in the summer so even if we do go outside we aren’t getting near as much sunlight. This sets off our biological clock because we want to go to sleep when it’s dark but of course at 6:00pm we can’t. Researchers have also discovered those who are sensitive to light are much more likely to get the winter blues than those who are not. Those people feel much better when they are in the sunlight than not.

The best ways to treat SAD is by getting enough exercise so you can get your body moving, this will also help with the side effect of weight gain. Light therapy can also be helpful; they even make portable light therapy boxes that you can get online so you can get some extra light. But if you don’t want to buy that, just making sure you stay outside for long enough each day will help you feel a little better. Finally, sticking to a sleep schedule as proven to be very helpful, making sure you’re going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will consistently expose you to light at the same times each day. This will also help with the side effect of trouble sleeping.