Are the rainy weather and longer nights causing monsoon blues? We feel you. The cloudy weather and limited sunlight can make us feel low and tired, and cause disruption in our everyday schedule. Dr Pradip Shah, general physician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai, says that there is a term for this: monsoon lethargy. It is caused due to a sleep-inducing hormone known as melatonin, which is produced when we have limited exposure to sunlight.
The good news? This mood fluctuation may be temporary for most of us and can be managed with a few changes in our lifestyle.
Monsoon lethargy and its symptoms
“Our biological response to a dark environment is to close our eyes and go to sleep. Plus, the slow rhythmic sounds of raindrops also have an extremely pacifying effect on our minds. Hence, our body responds to these environmental conditions and triggers the sleep cycle,” Dr Shah explains in detail. Fatigue, sleepiness, low energy, and mood swings are a few common symptoms of monsoon lethargy.
Exercises to beat monsoon lethargy at home
We asked Anushka Nandani, co-founder, The Tribe and Mukul Nagpaul, founder, Pmftraining, for exercises to beat monsoon lethargy. According to these fitness experts, a simple combination of cardiovascular and strength exercises may help increase energy levels without draining us out. Exercising releases endorphins aka feel-good hormones, which eventually make us more energetic.
Here is a list of exercises they suggest we practice at home to beat monsoon lethargy.
1. Butt kicks
Popular among athletes, butt kick is usually used as a warm-up exercise, but we can include this in our regular workout. Butt kicks help get your heart rate up gradually, boost your stamina, and work on your core and lower body.
Push-ups are a type of weight-bearing exercise that help increase circulation, warm up our body, and boost energy levels. The exercise works on our upper body and core muscles.
A dynamic strength-training exercise, the squat helps us with several movements that we perform throughout the day—for instance, sitting on a chair or sofa—and decreases the risk of injury when added to our daily fitness routine. It helps strengthen the muscles in our lower body and core muscles.
4. Jump squats
A variation of the traditional squat, the jump squat mainly targets the muscles of our lower body including glutes, quads, and hamstrings. And this exercise engages the core muscles to develop strength.
5. High knees
High knees, at a slower pace and intensity, can get your heart pumping, which makes it great for cardiovascular health. High knees target muscles of the lower body, core, and upper body.
6. Mountain climbers
Mountain climber is a fun exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, all at once. When you practice this exercise, it works on strengthening and stabilising your core and helps in building cardiovascular and muscle strength.
Lifestyle tweaks to beat monsoon lethargy
1. Get sunlight
Whenever the sun is out, make sure you take some time out and take a sun bath. This will help reduce the level of melatonin and help decrease your lethargy.
2. Eat foods rich in protein and fibre
Foods that are rich in protein and fibre—nuts and legumes, for example—help nourish our body and indirectly help us beat monsoon blues.
3. Keep fat intake to a minimum
The rainy weather calls for multiple sessions of chai and pakoras, samosas, or other fried foods. While these foods are delicious and amp up our mood, fried foods contain high levels of fat, which is known to induce lethargy. Eat in moderation, if needed.