When brisk fall winds blow red and gold leaves down the sidewalk many of us feel like grabbing the nearest pumpkin spice anything and heading off to the local corn maze. Unfortunately, this part of fall seems to last about 5 minutes. Then the cloudy days and rain set in, making us want to retreat to our beds and huddle under the covers.
As it turns out, there’s a reason for the de-energizing effect of rain days. Sunny days cause our body to create more serotonin, the “feel good” hormone that helps us feel calm and happy. When the sky is overcast and the days are shorter, our bodies create less serotonin and more melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel tired and sleepy. The effects of melatonin aren’t irresistible, which is a good thing for those of us who still have to get up and go to work on damp fall days.
If you’re having trouble dragging yourself out of bed when the skies are grey and the days are short, try getting in some early morning exercise. Physical activity increases blood flow, which helps send more oxygen to the brain. After a half hour or so, aerobic exercise also causes your body to make endorphins, hormones that have their own “feel good” effect.
It’s not easy to exercise when all you want to do is stay in bed but if you have to get up anyway, you might as well move. After you’re up and going, there’ll still be time to grab some pumpkin spice on the way to work.
If exercise isn’t an option, an alternative is light therapy using a special electric light. Light Therapy for the Winter Blues | Rush Memorial Hospital