Blog Post Written by Child and Adolescent Counselor Kavita Adatia.
If you feel lethargic, down, and energy is depleting like an old phone battery, you are not alone. Though winter months are accompanied with holidays, a new year, cozy sweaters, and delicious hot chocolate, it is understandably a hard time for people. A small population (about 4 to 6 %) is diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Individuals diagnosed with SAD experience a significant shift in their moods when the days shorten. Although you might not have SAD, it is not out of the ordinary to feel down and in the dumps during this time of year. Fortunately, there are eight things you can do to thaw away those winter blues. Continue reading to learn how:
1. SPEND TIME OUTSIDE/LET IN THE LIGHT.
During winter months, days shorten and nights lengthen. Though it might be cold outside, consider spending time outside when the sun is out. It is extremely common to feel like staying inside in on a cold and snowy day. However, doing so means we do not get exposure to the sun, and this is one of the ways we can get vitamin D. There are many fun things to do outside, and your town may have some fun local events planned.
2. GET SOME EXERCISE
It can be tempting to stay idle inside, eat to our hearts content, and not be active. After all it’s cold, you are low on energy, and the thought of putting on all those layers of clothing to go outside can seem like a chore. Do not let the fact that it is cold outside keep you from your exercise routine. Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, in our brain. The release of this chemical works similarly to how morphine works in our body and triggers a positive response in our bodies.
3. EAT NUTRITIOUS FOOD
A low mood and poor sleep habits can entice us to reach for those foods high in carbs and fat. Instead, keep a healthy and balanced diet during the winter months to improve those down in the dump moods. Your diet should include foods like lean proteins, dark chocolate, bananas, berries, turkey, berries, and foods with Omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Adequate sleep is key when it comes to thawing away the winter blues. Furthermore, eight hours of undisturbed sleep can help lessen low moods caused by the winter months. On the other hand, getting too much sleep can make us feel sluggish and more tired than usual. The solution is to keep a consistent bed time schedule and prepare an area that is conducive to a good night’s sleep.
5. SEEK THE LIGHT
Light therapy is a very popular treatment for those who have SAD and can also help you if you struggle with the darkness that comes with winter. The bright light from a light box mimics the daylight from outside. If you are considering a light box for your winter blues, consult with a healthcare specialist or counselor to determine which light box best serves your needs.
6. GET INVOLVED IN AN INDOOR HOBBY
Getting involved with a hobby can alleviate boredom and restlessness during the winter. If you used to write, draw, read, or do arts and crafts, and haven’t for a while, now is the time to resume. Winter time is also a great time to start something new, so if you have been eyeing that musical instrument you got for Christmas, now is the perfect time to start!
7. SOCIALIZE WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
The winter months may tempt us to keep to ourselves, but spending time with friends and family may be just what the doctor ordered. Consider scheduling some time with people who energize and lift your mood when you are feeling down.
8. SEE A COUNSELOR
If you still find yourself struggling with low moods during the winters and have tried everything such as light therapy, exercise, getting enough sleep, and keeping a balanced diet, talking to a mental health counselor can be a great next step. A counselor can work with you to determine the best ways to work with low energy and low moods, and can also customize a treatment plan that works for you. The most popular treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy which involves teaching you how to change your thinking in order to improve the way you feel. If you would like to see a counselor, head on over to: http://www.holdinghopeservices.org/about-us/ to schedule an appointment with one of our talented and caring clinicians!