Oh, winter. The season brings with it cozy sweaters, snow boots, and evenings on the couch with a good book or the latest series. But, winter means something entirely different for some. The “winter blues” can send some of us into a season-long depression and leave us starving for a glimpse of the sun. If this sounds like you, read on for a few tips on surviving the slump.
1. Try light therapy. What better way to beat the “winter blues” than to shed some light on them? Light therapy can reduce abnormally-high levels of melatonin, which are often present in people with winter depression. There is an assortment of light boxes and lamps that can provide a sunny substitute. Using one of these options for as little as a half hour per day can be effective.
2. Wake up naturally…well, almost. Using a similar concept to light boxes and lamps, a dawn simulator mimics the sunrise you may be missing due to an early shift. It gradually brightens the room over the course of a half hour to an hour so you don’t have to wake up to an annoying alarm. They are fairly inexpensive, with most falling under $50.
3. Cozy up. Some cultures don’t view winter with a gloomy lens. Instead, they see it as a much-needed time for rest and renewal. Embrace the urge to hibernate and stock up on some new bestsellers or your favorite magazines. A warm robe and a candle doesn’t hurt the mood, either.
4. Visit your primary care physician for a check-up. Have them rule out insufficient vitamin levels. Low levels of D and B-12 can cause low energy and changes in mood. Your doctor can also suggest medications or other supplements to provide a boost.
5. Plan something for the warm weather ahead. Whether it’s a weekend trip or an outing, planning for something fun in the spring or summer can be a great way to take your mind off the gloom and doom you’re feeling. Work on an invitation list for a summer barbecue, if that’s your thing, or plan a trip to the park to welcome spring. It doesn’t have to break the bank.
6. Changing up your diet with some serotonin-boosting foods or adding an afternoon walk or workout can brighten your perspective. Even a quick stroll can increase feel-good chemicals. In addition, foods such as cheese, nuts, and turkey can provide an uptick in mood. Try adding more healthy fats and carbs as well.
7. Take some time to cross a task off your to-do list that gets overlooked during the spring and summer. It may be difficult to find the motivation to do so, but when you step back and see your accomplishment afterward, it will definitely assist with beating winter blues. If you need inspiration to get yourself off the couch, check out some organization videos or blogs to get pumped up.
The winter blues can feel as though they will never end. Hang in there and, as we always say, don’t rule out therapy to get you through. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has been found effective as a treatment. The therapist can work with you to help overwrite negative thoughts that can contribute to the uneasiness of the season. At any rate, don’t let the winter blues get you down.