Typically, the winter doldrums don’t truly hit until January or even February. But like with most things about 2020, seasonal depression is different this year.
Many folks have already been battling a mean case of the pandemic blues for months. And now, with the holidays arriving… and us still not out of the woods with the coronavirus… lots of people are being hit with winter depression earlier and harder than ever before.
If you want to put on airs, you can call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. But in the end, it’s really just feeling super depressed during the winter months when you’re exposed to far less mood-boosting sunlight.
This year, of course, it’s not just the lack of sunlight that’s making us feel blue. It’s what’s KEEPING us inside and away from THAT light. And the fact that we can’t see family and friends or carry out many of our precious holiday traditions.
And to make matters worse, if you are a senior, you’re ALREADY at a higher risk for developing a serious case of SAD. Toss in lousy weather, a raging pandemic, and loneliness, and you have a terrible trifecta.
Say goodbye to the winter blues
Honestly, it’s no wonder so many of us are feeling out of sorts. Heck, it would be more surprising if you WEREN’T battling SAD at this point.
But take a deep breath and keep reading. Because I’m here to help. I have news of a Canadian secret for banishing the winter blues. And with the rough winters they battle up north, I’d say they know a thing or two about it.
The best part? There are no heavy-duty drugs or hours spent on telemedicine sessions with a therapist required. In fact, according to the researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, if you’re an older adult, good old-fashioned exercise can send your mood soaring.
And don’t fret if you aren’t exactly an exercise fanatic. Because once you hear the details, I promise you’re going to feel a LOT more like making a move. And I’ll have a few exercise hints for you that I promise you’re going to love.
Raise your levels of “feel good” tryptophan to fight depression
So, here’s the deal. When you exercise, your body begins to pump out specific proteins. This triggers your system to start metabolizing tryptophan.
Now, if tryptophan sounds a little familiar, I’m not surprised. Especially since we just had Thanksgiving. You see, it’s the amino acid you hear so much about around this time of year since turkey is a good source of the nutrient.
Your body uses tryptophan for several different things. But in this case, what we care about is its “feel good” properties.
You see like it’s kissing cousin serotonin, tryptophan is a natural mood enhancer. Which is why you probably found yourself pleasantly passed out on the couch last Thursday after the Thanksgiving feast.
Bust a move to drive down the winter blues
The McMaster team recruited a group of senior men, 65 or older, to participate in their exercise program.
For 12-weeks, the men stuck to a regular exercise routine. And there’s great news for those of us hoping to replicate their success. The guys DIDN’T have to run marathons or lift hundred-pound weights all day long to get the kinds of results that can drive SAD symptoms into submission.
Instead, they divided their sessions up between using resistance bands and pedaling on a stationary exercise bike. In other words, exercises that would be easy to do in the comfort of your own home.
Blood and muscle samples confirmed the researchers had hit pay dirt. The regular exercise sessions had sent the guy’s “feel good” chemical levels soaring. Experts say that means that exercise alone could very well help fight off the kind of depression lots of older adults battle in the winter.
If you’re fighting off a terrible case of the 2020s, I want you to do me a favor and give exercise the old college try. It could turn out to be the key to lifting your mood without resorting to heavy-duty drugs or intensive therapy.
Ditch depression with “No Exercise Exercises”
But wait, I promised to share a few exercise hints with you that you’re going to love. And I’m a woman of my word.
If you’re like me and not into traditional exercise… or you just can’t get motivated to move right now… don’t worry I’ve got your back.
Instead of sit-ups and crunches… which, let’s face it, just aren’t in the cards for most folks our age anyway… pick a few “activities” from my “No Exercise Exercises” list below. You’ll get all the depression-fighting benefits of moving more, but without the traditional workout.
- When you walk the dog, speed walk for 30 to 60 seconds every other minute.
- Pick a project that forces you to bend and stretch a bit, like scrubbing out the fridge or reorganizing the pantry.
- When a commercial break starts hop up from the couch and march in place until your show is back on.
- Have to leave the house for an errand or doctor’s appointment? Park the car at the edge of the parking lot and speed walk to your destination.
- During your next phone call, don’t sit down. Pace around the house instead.
- Find a playlist of your favorite Golden Oldies on YouTube or Spotify, hit play, and dance around the dining room table.
You get the idea. Choose an activity you enjoy… or one that’s at least productive… and get moving. By the time you’re done, your tryptophan level will have jumped, and your mood will have risen right along with it.
For more ways to beat the winter blues, check out my free report 6 ways your morning routine can prevent a SAD day.