How travelling can help cure the winter blues

Has the winter season left you down in the dumps? Well, you are not alone. Many people around the world tend to feel low when it gets cold. And yes, science can explain why this happens.

Winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that often strikes when the cold temperature sets in or when there is less sunlight. Hence, when the winter season arrives, you will often find yourself low on energy and motivation.

Symptoms of SAD

Though the symptoms you experience can be mild or severe, the fact is, SAD can affect your personal and work life. Not only will your work progress decrease, but you will often find yourself moving away from social gatherings. Here are the symptoms:

  • Feeling depressed
  • Losing interest in activities you otherwise enjoyed
  • Appetite changes
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Low on energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Appetite changes
  • Oversleeping or sleeplessness

What are the causes?

Sudden mood changes that occur in the cold season often have to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain. During winter, sunlight exposure reduces since the sun sets early, hence, the brain ends up producing too much of the sleep hormone (melatonin). The production of the feel-good brain chemical (serotonin) also reduces. When this disparity in the chemicals occurs, the way you function and feel gets influenced.

How to treat the Seasonal Affective Disorder

The most common treatment of SAD is light therapy – which requires you to surround yourself with light boxes that produce bright white light. It is also important to keep a track of what you eat. For instance, complex carbs such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables and beans will help maintain your energy. You should also eat foods that contain tryptophan since they increase serotonin levels. This includes items such as turkey, eggs, salmon, nuts and pineapple. 

How a vacation can help

While changing your diet and light therapy may help, the best way to put your bad mood on pause is to head out for a vacation. Honestly, nothing can refresh you more than a short trip outside the city!

Usually during winters, many people prefer to visit places that are warm like Thailand and other tropical islands. But why spend thousands of rupees to de-stress yourself when you can easily get  a better budget-friendly deal to the south of Pakistan?

The key is to experience something new that refreshes your mind, body and soul. If going up north is too cold for you in the winter, here are a few other places you can head to.

Gorakh: Gorakh Hill Station in Sindh is one of the highest plateaus of the region and a must for those who want a night out under a starry sky. The area has many hills you can trek on and when nightfall hits, you can spend your time singing with your buddies around a campfire. Gorakh is also famous for its scenic sunrise and sunset.

Note: While it gets chilly in the night, the place is relatively warm in the morning.

Beaches in Balochistan: A few hours drive away from Karachi, Balochistan is a hub of beautiful blue beaches such as the Kund Malir beach, Ormara beach and Moola Chotak. You can also travel to Astola Island if you are really craving some time off from the busy city life.

Beaches in Karachi: Can’t fit a weekend off in your schedule? If you are a Karachiite looking for a timeout, try the beaches in Hawksbay Sandspit, Tushan beach or French beach. The process is pretty simple too – grab a bunch of snacks and some music and head to the nearest hut with your friends.

To make sure you have the best time, take some board games, card games and a volleyball with you!

Try the Sufi life: Though the province of Sindh is home to numerous architectural wonders, it is also the place where roots of Sufi culture evolved.  Hence, you will find beautifully constructed shrines of Sufi saints all over the province. This includes Sachal Sarmast, Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Bhitshah and many more.

Ranikot fort: Nominated as a UNESCO world heritage site and recognised as ‘The Great Wall of Sindh’, Ranikot is a historical landmark that is bound to throw your imagination back to the 17th century. This spot is also great for camping and is often used for stargazing.

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