We've all heard the term, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to Psych Central, between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women, and females aged 15-55 are more likely to develop SAD. Wikipedia defines SAD as is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter. SAD also is referred to as winter depression, the winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression.
So, if it is defined on Wikipedia it must be real! We aren't denying that, nor are we undermining the effect it has on some people. In fact, I suffer from it myself. I even went as far as moving to Florida to escape it. And while I did very much enjoy the warmer, longer days of the Sunshine State, last winter I found myself back in Connecticut. Why? One big reason was mission FITNESS.
If you are a member at mission, you know that it isn't just a place that can be replaced. In fact, we have many who have made weekend trips home from Boston, New York City and beyond, saying they just couldn't find anything close to the culture we have at mission.
So, here I was back in Connecticut. I had two choices; I could let the seasonal depression own me, or I could decide to try to fight it. I chose the latter, and with the support from my mission FITNESS family and a lot of saying YES to things I may not have "felt" like doing, I made it through the winter reasonably happy!
Get Into Gear to Spread Holiday Cheer
Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health, especially in the winter. In fact, in a famous study by neuroscientist, James Blumenthal, it was found that treating depression with exercise only (no medication) was far more powerful for beating depression long-term. They also found that when you add 50 minutes of exercise to your week, it cuts the rate of depression in half, no matter how much exercise you already do. Here's my five tips on beating the winter blues with fitness.
1. Hold Yourself Accountable
Find a gym partner and make a date with them to attend class. When it gets cold and dark out, it is very easy to hit the snooze button or to go home after work and get into your pajamas. Fight that urge by making a promise to a friend to meet them at the gym. Chances are much less likely to skip a workout if someone is counting on you.
2. Sign Up for An Early Spring Race
This will force you to stay active and continue training throughout the winter, when you may otherwise fall off your workout schedule. A quick search for running events near me can help you find some if you need ideas, or check out this calendar of races in CT.
3. Find a New Winter Hobby
You're never too old to try something new. Whether it's cross country skiing, winter trail running, snow shoeing, ice skating, or something else, having a winter hobby will help you appreciate the colder days and get in a good workout. Who knows what you may fall in love with and (dare I say) make you look forward to the snow!
At mission FITNESS we plan to keep our mission ADVENTURES and Trail Running series going throughout the winter. There's no better time to give that a try!
4. Always Say YES to Fitness!
This goes for everyday life, but mostly for the winter. "No" will come easy. It will be too cold. Too dark. However, I can promise you if you say YES you won't regret it. Say yes to adventure. Say yes to a workout. Say yes to a hike. Say yes to everything healthy.
5. Keep Positive Company
Lastly, surround yourself with people who are doing things. People who love the winter. People to say YES to. The doers. The movers and shakers. Being around positive people as opposed to those complaining about the cold will make a world of difference to your happiness.
As we embrace the darker, colder mornings and nights, remember to take the time out for your own self-care. Make it a point to find a friend to commit to a fitness class with, start a new hobby, find running races or adventures and keep good company to beat the winter blues and get prepared to enjoy this holiday season.
If you haven’t tried mission FITNESS in Glastonbury and want to try our Cardio Boxing, Bootcamp or mission POWER classes, we recommend starting with our Intro Class Package.
About the author
Darcy is a certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor with a Bachelors Degree in Physical Education and Health and has been teaching group classes and PT at the gym since it opened in 2009.
She is passionate about working with members of all fitness levels to help them discover their full potential, while helping them identify what is holding them back. She has also worked with several elite athletes at the collegiate and high school levels, including Gatorade All-Americans and Connecticut Basketball Players of the Year.
When not at mission FITNESS, Darcy is on the golf course, traveling in her camper with her husband and dog, or hiking or running in the woods. She is a competitive trail runner and endurance athlete who competes in adventure racing and ultra marathons. Her career highlights include placing 6th Female Overall at the 2014 50 Mile Trail Running National Championships, 1st at the Bimblers Bash 10k Trail Race, 1st at the Summer Solstice Trail Race and 1st at The Bitter P6ull 12 hour Adventure Race with Team Rev 3.