Cold winter mornings tend to bring out our “eff everything” spirit. We can barely pry open our eyes, much less think about carefully priming our lids and lining them with precise little swoops. Most weekdays, the routine is: brush teeth, stand under scalding shower while trying to wake up, spend 10 minutes making self look like human being, stuff feet into waterproof boots, and get the hell to work. Hate everything. Repeat ad infinitum.
But, on those rare mornings when we wake up an hour early, crank the Spotify, treat ourselves to a whole routine (Clarisonic! Serum! PRIMER!), and actually do our hair? Well, our busy souls feel downright...happy. We may even start humming Disney songs and imagine cartoon birds chirping around us. We strut into the gray, dreary, winter world feeling like we can take it on. These extra moments of caring for ourselves — even if they're stolen while it’s still dark outside — make all the difference for the rest of the day.
According to the experts, there’s a rhyme and reason to our morning madness. Research shows that taking care of yourself can help you beat those inevitable mid-winter sads, and could even aid in treating seasonal affective disorder — an affliction studies have repeatedly shown women suffer from at least 50% more than men.
“When people are feeling depressed, they don’t take good care of themselves,” says Rachel A. Sussman, a New York City-based psychotherapist and relationship expert. It can become a vicious cycle: One of the most common aspects of seasonal affective disorder is that you’re not getting enough light, which affects your circadian rhythms. This means you’re not going to get a good night’s sleep. Which means you may become prone to hormonal imbalances, which can cause changes in your skin and hair.
Don’t confuse the winter blues — something almost everybody experiences — with a clinical disorder, though. “Although many people claim to have seasonal affective disorder, its actual occurrence is generally assumed to be in approximately 5% of the population,” says Dr. Mary Lamia, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in Marin County, California. “There are many issues that can affect mood in autumn and winter, including limited physical activity, memories of sad events that occurred during those months, and others.” Dr. Lamia says your beauty and skin-care routine (or lack thereof) can undoubtedly affect your mood, and vice versa. “Mood affects one’s motivation to attend to personal care,” she says.