MASON CITY, Iowa – If you’ve notice a mood change this winter, chances are the lack of sunshine is taking it’s toll.
It’s seems there’s no real end in sight for the snow and bitter cold.
For Lloyd Graves of Mason City, it’s been as unpredictable as you can expect out of an Iowa winter.
“It’s been kind of a yo-yo year up-and-down weather-wise. It seems warm one and then cold the few. Then it snows does it all over again. I guess the last couple winners kind of spoiled us cause they were really mild,” said Graves.
This winter is far from mild with temperatures reaching in the double digits below zero, and it’s not just your car feeling the effects, if you’ve noticed a mood change, it could be linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder or ironically enough, sad.
Cody Williams is a Licensed Mental Health Specialist with Turning Leaf in Mason City and says it’s a natural response for our bodies.
“We like to be outside see the sunlight and things like that will definitely boost our mood. With it being so cold and long this winter, you’re not getting out of the house much, exercising isn’t happening and then also with more cloudy days you’re not getting the sunlight,” said Williams.
Symptoms of sad include, oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrates craving and weight gain.
According to the New York State Psychiatric Institute, 10 percent of adults go through Seasonal Affective Disorder in the US each year.
“This time of year, I see a lot more people coming in that are depressed and that does effect some people more than others,” said Williams.
Williams goes on to say working out three times a week can help release natural endorphin’s but the simplest way to beat the winter blues is by getting some sun to brighten your day.
If finding natural sunlight is out of the question, light boxes can be bought at your local hardware store. These boxes emit full spectrum lights to help your body’s natural clock adjust properly.
Tanning has also been long considered an option for those looking to vacation to brighter and better locations during the winter months, but now it’s also helping to adjust mood as well.
Tanning booths generally emit the same full spectrum lights as the light boxes making it a practical option.
Williams says while this is considered one option for folks, he doesn’t recommend it due to the high risk of skin cancer.
Although if done in moderation, tanning can help the body gain natural nutrients through the skin that you may not otherwise get during the short winter days.