As the weather cools down and the days are less sunny, winter blues might set in. The way people feel and act when they have winter blues can affect your diabetes. Learn how to combat the winter blues and improve your self-management of diabetes during the colder months.
- Winter blues is not the same as ongoing depression. Seasonal depression typically occurs during the months of October through April. Some people spend several months struggling to beat the winter blues. It can make it harder to manage health issues such as diabetes.
- Shorter days, longer nights and colder temperatures might make it more difficult to exercise outside. This alters moods for some people. While the lack of sunlight might change your exercise schedule, try to get a ten minute walk outdoors every day. Join a local gym or invest in indoor exercise equipment to continue working out during the winter months. Even walking inside at the mall will help keep you fit. Exercise gives an adrenalin rush and releases dopamine to boost your mood and reduce pain. It also helps control your blood sugars.
- Failing to exercise can lead to weight gain, increased blood pressure and high blood sugar. This may wind up making you feel lethargic, fatigued and depressed. Consider winter sports such as skiing or ice skating to get outdoors and stay fit. Even shoveling snow is great way to keep moving under the winter sun.
- The winter also brings the holiday season. Often people with diabetes feel tempted to eat foods they should avoid. Feasting on salty and sugary holiday fare can lead to weight gain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. If you occasionally indulge, use a blood pressure monitor and check your blood sugar regularly to stay on track. Bring healthy snacks to holiday parties to ward off your desire to eat the wrong foods.
- Studies have shown depression can have a negative effect on glucose control. Exercise every day, talk to a friend and engage in hobbies that make you happy. Even a funny television show can boost your mood though the healing power of laughter. Get sunshine for a few minutes each day. A lack of light can cause you to sleep less and the brain may release serotonin that affects your mood.
- Your A1C screening may show whether you are suffering from winter blues. If your wintertime hemoglobin A1C screening is out of control during a particular season, it might be a sign you experience seasonal depression. Your chemical balance can change when you feel depressed. Your body releases cortisol into the blood that causes blood sugars to soar. Conversely, high blood sugar can make you more prone to feeling depressed. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is crucial.
- Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include increased or decreased appetite, sleeping more or poorly, anxiousness, grumpiness, sadness, moodiness, loss of interest, drowsiness or weight gain. People with diabetes might wind up eating unhealthy foods that cause them to pack on pounds. This creates a vicious cycle physically and emotionally. Nibble on healthy snacks throughout the day, count your carbohydrate servings and drink water to ward off hunger pangs.
- Discuss the symptoms of seasonal depression with your doctor. Your physician might recommend a counselor, social worker or psychologist. Sometimes talking to a professional is enough to ward off the winter blues. In other situations, medication or light therapy might be used to get you past the feelings of depression.
Winter blues has a major impact on people with diabetes. It is important to exercise, eat healthy foods and engage in positive activities for proper self-management of diabetes. If this does not improve your mood, turn to your physician for help.