Besides being great for your physical health, a warm dip in a hot tub uplifts your mood and does wonders for your mental well-being, especially in the winter.
It’s that time of the year when we have fewer hours of sunlight, plenty of grey skies and the bitter cold to contend with. The holidays bring some cheer and excitement but for many, it comes with added stresses. All in all, it’s no wonder that winters take a toll on our mental health.
Catching the winter blues
Studies have linked limited sunshine (and the subsequent Vitamin D deficiency) to lower levels of serotonin which helps regulate your sleep cycles and your mood. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many of us through the dark winter months. Among other symptoms, it brings with it a change in appetite, a disturbed sleep cycle, lower energy levels and feelings of depression. But even those of us who aren’t diagnosed with SAD could experience more negative feelings and moods in the winter.
Why are negative feelings and moods more common in the winter?
Fewer hours of sunlight and as a result, lower serotonin levels affect your ability to regulate your mood. The lack of outdoor activity and sunshine can also disrupt your circadian rhythm (your biological clock) so you can’t get enough sleep. We know from experience that without adequate rest, everyday life is much harder to deal with.
In response to the increased hours of darkness, your body produces more melatonin which contributes to lethargy. Add to this, the stress experienced in and around the holidays, and you have the perfect cocktail for SAD or the winter blues.
Happily, symptoms of SAD disappear once you’re able to spend more time outdoors and soak up some sun (or, take a vitamin D supplement until the sun reappears). But until then, there are several ways your hot tub can help banish the UK winter blues.
How can a hot tub help chase away the winter blues?
Since most of the factors playing a role in causing SAD are seasonal, environmental factors, you have limited control over them. However, research has given us different ways to counter the effects of these dark, wintry weeks. While a hot tub cannot claim to be a one-stop solution to SAD, setting aside time to relax in one for even just 20 minutes a day can help alleviate negative symptoms in various ways:
Restore your circadian rhythm
Being well-rested is extremely important for your mental well-being. Research related to circadian rhythms and depression is often conducted with night shift workers whose jobs require them to disturb their regular sleep cycles. A meta-analysis saw that night shift workers are 40% more likely to develop symptoms of depression than day workers. A warm soak strengthens your circadian rhythm which helps you sleep better and aids in restoring your sleep cycle.
Balance serotonin and melatonin
The combination of lower serotonin production and increased melatonin production results in lethargic, negative feelings. A natural way to increase serotonin production is getting some amount of daylight every day. As sitting out on your porch in the freezing cold is hardly an inviting prospect, opt to relax in your hot tub instead. Spending some time in wintry sunshine also helps regulate melatonin production which increases in response to darkness.
Get your fill of the outdoors
Connecting with nature has a marked impact on your mood. Harvard Medical School cites a study that found listening to sounds from nature lowers both blood pressure and cortisol levels. Another study suggests that just gazing at a beautiful vista can help clear the cobwebs in your mind and improve your ability to think clearly.
Since opportunities for play and outdoor activity are limited during winter, turn to your hot tub. Unwind as you stargaze or cloud gaze, connect with nature from the comfort and warmth of a soothing soak in your tub.
Rejuvenate after holiday stress
Despite looking forward to the holidays, all the pressure it brings can set off your “fight or flight” response. It can be emotionally and physically draining. Research suggests that a session in warm water is ideal to relax the entire body. It slows your body down and helps release endorphins or happy hormones.
Should you winterize your tub?
If you’re spending the winter at home, you can continue to keep your hot tub running and filled as you do for the rest of the year, even if you don’t use it as often. Energy-efficient models only consume minimal electricity and therefore, it makes more sense to keep it running than winterizing it. If you’re away for two weeks or less, it still makes sense to keep it running. Treat the water before you leave and make sure it’s well-covered with child locks in place to prevent unsupervised use when you’re away. You could lower the running temperature but ensure that the water is always warm enough to prevent freezing.
Sutton Spas is here for you through the year
We’ve been doing this long enough to know that a hot tub offers you more than just a luxurious soak. Being able to get even a short session of relaxation a day reaps a multitude of mental and physical health benefits.
We make sure that we supply you with only the best British-made RotoSpa tubs that stand for quality and long-term durability. These designs boast energy efficiency and are 99% recyclable as well. Our team can help you choose the right option for your needs and we’re on hand for support so you can enjoy it for years to come. Contact us today to benefit from having a hot tub in your own yard.