How the time change affects us on a psychological level in times of covid

How the time change affects us on a psychological level in times of covid

Time change

More fatigue, weight gain and lack of vitamin D are direct consequences of the fall time change

How the time change affects us on a psychological level in times of covid

The second of Time change of the year, which occurs in autumn, delays our routine by an hour. At three in the morning on Sunday, October 25, the clock will be delayed at two to enter winter time and, if when we were little we always felt joy tonight, because it meant that we could sleep an hour more, now is the beginning of a stage in which sunlight is gradually disappearing.

Human beings live connected to our environment and therefore the weather changes can affect our mood. It is therefore common that it seems that we “wake up” with the arrival of spring and enter a kind of lethargy when the cold days begin. That is why the time change can affect us, not only psychologically, but also physically.

First of all, it is important to understand the nature of this time change: it is done with the aim of adjusting our day with the sun. In this way, when we get up at dawn, we “readjust” our circadian cycles. Also, it is done with the aim that the working hours adapt better to sunlight, and when they end, the darkness begins. The problem is that each person is different, and not everyone adapts their sleep hours and routines to the solar cycle.

Why does the time change “make us feel bad”?

Blanca Tejero Claver, doctor in Psychology and director of the Master in Special Education at UNIR, comments on several negative consequences of this time change. First, he talks about the lack of vitamin D in the population: “There are fewer hours of sunlight, which makes it difficult to absorb this vitamin, and because of them we feel more tired.” He adds that, by spending more hours in the dark, increases the level of melatonin in our body, which also makes us feel more sleepy.

On the other hand, the teacher speaks of a «vicious circle» from which it is difficult to get out in the cold months once we enter: «When we spend more hours at home, we exercise less. It is more lazy to go for a run or play sports outdoors in dark or bad weather. This makes we gain weight and also lower our serotonin level, the hormone that gives us happiness. We enter a loop in which we feel worse about ourselves and more discouraged.

The “winter depression”

Blanca Tejero Claver mentions the existence of “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, and compares it in a simple way with the process that some animals go through in winter, which go into lethargy. «It is not that we are a bear and we go to winter, but the arrival of the cold, the lack of light … makes us sadder and more downcast, and what is called the winter depression occurs, which does not have a factor in itself , beyond what I have commented, “he says.

On the other hand, this year we are facing an exceptional situation, because not only can the time change affect us, but we are in a situation of uncertainty and constant tension derived from the Covid-19 pandemic, which may exacerbate the negative impact.

Time change one year of pandemic

“This year we have already had less contact with the sun, and our emotional state is more affected by the situation: we have more sleep problems, we are more irritable … all this makes the symptoms worse,” explains the teacher, who continues and comments that the situation of economic uncertaintyTelework, which adds more work to the routine, as well as a greater burden with children, for example, at home, are also triggers for this “winter blues”. “Also, in winter we tend to have less social life, more meetings are held at home, and these are things to avoid at times, which will lead to more family, emotional, social and relationship problems,” says Tejero Claver. All this, together with the natural factors of the time change, make this year more difficult to manage than normal.

Tips to adapt to the time change

From the Association for Self-care of Health (anefp) they have prepared a list of tips and recommendations to help adapt to the new schedule:

1. Establish a sleep routine, with a more or less fixed schedule to go to bed and get up.

2. To facilitate adaptation to the sleep routine, they advise avoid naps during the first weeks of the new schedule.

3. Maintain a Healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, and reduce the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants, especially at night.

4. Take advantage of daylight hours to exercise and do outdoor activities.

5. Keep the brain active through reading, hobbies, memory games, etc.

6. Advance dinner time and eat light foods to avoid heavy digestions that can affect the quality of sleep.

7. Decrease the use of mobile devices, tablets and computers before going to sleep, as the light from the screen can affect sleep.

Even so, with good habits we can alleviate or minimize the impact on our mood and physical of the reduction of solar hours. «It is very important to sleep well. It is best to have a fixed time to go to sleep and getting up, as well as avoiding exposure to bright lights before sleeping, such as cell phones or tablets, and avoiding heavy dinners “, recommends the teacher. «In general, the best formula to avoid these negative effects is to have a healthy lifestyle: eat healthy, exercise, include in our diet foods rich in vitamin D such as cheese, egg yolks or fatty fish such as salmon or tuna and try to make the most of daylight hours: go out when we have sun, and if we cannot go outside, at least to the terrace or window », Concludes Tejero Claver.

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