For many people, the “winter blues” arrive every year. Some people may feel mildly down in the dumps while others may experience serious depression that should be professionally treated. Collectively, the condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short.
There are many ways to deal with SAD, depending on its severity. And in most cases, your hot tub can be a positive component in helping you feel less blue. But first…
SAD is linked to a biochemical imbalance that’s prompted by shorter days and less natural light. As the seasons change, some people experience a shift in their biological clocks that puts them out of step with their daily rhythm.
One theory is that decreased exposure to sunlight shifts the internal biological clock that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones. Exposure to light may reset the biological clock. Another theory is that brain chemicals that transmit information between nerves, called neurotransmitters may be altered in individuals with SAD. It is believed that exposure to light can correct these imbalances.
In your outdoor hot tub during daylight hours, you’re able to increase your exposure to natural light and the potential benefits it offers to those affected by SAD. Whether that’s helping you balance your biological clock or correcting imbalances in neurotransmitters, you’re outside in fresh air, relaxing, and enjoying the benefits of massage while getting far more light exposure than you would indoors (remember, even a cloudy day is many times brighter than indoor lighting). And that’s just the icing on the cake–the cake being the wealth of other wellness benefits you get with daily hot tub soak.
Imagine. It’s freezing cold outside. You feel as though all you want to do is lie under a pile of blankets. Instead, you can sit in your hot tub, warmed inside and out, watching the clouds roll by, and breathing fresh air. You’re relaxing, increasing your circulation, loosening muscles, becoming more flexible and feeling better.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms of SAD include fatigue, lack of interest in your regular activities, social withdrawal, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, irritability and even weight gain that comes from craving higher carbohydrate foods.
If you feel like you’re suffering from seasonal depression, it’s a good idea to see a medical professional. A doctor can treat it with a variety of therapies, including light therapy, where patients are exposed to bright lights that are about four times more intense than other indoor lighting. It’s important to note that even on a cloudy day, natural light is far greater in its intensity than indoor lighting.
Given what we know about SAD, it’s a good idea for people who feel mildly out of step to get more natural light outdoors. That’s hard for many people to do if they work standard business hours. If that’s the case, try to arrange your workspace to get access to more natural light through a window.
What’s great about a hot tub is that cold weather won’t keep you indoors. You’ll stay warm and relaxed while getting more exposure to natural light any day of the year. Try starting off your day with a spirit-lifting sunrise or end it by watching the warm glow of a sunset. You can bask in sunlight any time during winter daylight hours.
Getting more natural light seems to be the primary treatment for seasonal affective disorder. But why stop there? At Caldera Spas, we believe a 20-minute soak every day can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It can help your body feel more flexible and relaxed, especially in winter when cold temperatures tighten muscles. In your tub, you become warmed to the core, allowing muscles, ligaments and tendons to loosen and relax. It also gives you time to clear your mind and slow down. Use that time as a way to experience some needed solitude or an opportunity to connect with family members without the usual distractions.
Certainly, everyone who feels a little down in the winter will have a different experience. Yet time in your hot tub WILL give you access to more natural light if used in daylight hours and fresh air, and you’ll spend time outdoors soaking in warm water. You’ll also get all the benefits of a daily 20-minute soak!
With winter on its way, we’re wondering how you plan to use your hot tub. Will it help you stay more positive or engaged during cold months? Will you spend more time outdoors as a result? We’re interested in how our customers use their own hot tubs to not only get through winter, but to truly enjoy it. Let us know and we’ll post your response here.