Snow flurries, chilly temperatures and dark evenings mark the signs of winter, which brings joy for some and dread for others. If you suffer bouts of winter blues during the cold months, you know how sluggish this season can make you feel. Your energy levels decline, you’re sad or irritable and you want to sleep all the time. The winterblues don’t count as a medical condition, but you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) if your symptoms are severe.
Doctors characterize SAD by indicators like fatigue, loss of motivation or feelings of hopelessness that appear as the seasons change. Whether you have a mild case of winter melancholy or a depression diagnosis, you can improve your mood with some helpful tips. Discover seven ways to beat the sadness.
1. Eat Healthier
Many people skimp on healthy eating during winter because of the endless festivities. Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day offer plenty of opportunities to chow down and drink up. It’s fun to indulge, but doing so too often can make you feel unwell.
Whole foods like fruits, grains and vegetables provide the nutrients necessary for mental and physical wellbeing. Incorporate healthy meals into your diet and eat in moderation. Try eating dark chocolate if you can’t say no to your sweet tooth — it has more antioxidants than other varieties.
2. Sleep Regularly
You may take naps or sleep in because of the dark mornings and evenings. While it’s nice to get some Zs, too much sleep can make you feel more tired than when you started. An irregular schedule will throw off your circadian rhythm, making adequate rest a hard-won prize.
Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day to avoid struggling with insomnia. Try gradually moving up your bedtime to acclimate yourself to the process instead of making a huge leap. A nightly routine can help you get to bed on time without distractions.
3. Snuggle With A Friend
What’s better than having a warm buddy to cuddle with when you’re feeling down? An emotional support dog or service animal can lend comfort and companionship if you struggle with managing your emotions. Almost any creature can be an emotional support animal, and people with SAD can employ an ESA to get them through the tough winter months.
Service dogs undergo specialized training to assist with disabilities that can worsen mood disorders. Caring for another being can revive your motivation and give you independence when you’re feeling helpless. Even if you don’t have an ESA or service dog, your pet pooch can remedy your downcast disposition with love and care.
4. Exercise Often
Exercise gets your blood flowing and encourages dopamine release in your brain, which makes you feel happier. Sticking to a fitness regime triggers frequent dopamine circulation, helping you stay cheerful for longer. You’ll feel more of these effects if you work out with friends, as socializing fosters a sense of belonging and contentment. Increase your stamina and kick your neurotransmitters into action, and you’ll soon be on track to joyful days.
5. Step Outside
Even if you’re unenthusiastic about going outside in these temperatures, the outdoors can invigorate you with a dose of sunshine and fresh air. Cold air makes you feel alert, which can help you regain energy. The sun’s rays provide mood-boosting vitamin D, while the air increases your oxygen levels and clears your mind. Turn your outing into a fun activity like ice skating or sledding, and you’ll be likely to stay outside longer.
6. Set Actionable Goals
Create a few goals to get you through the day — you don’t have to do anything extravagant. As long as your objectives motivate you to push the gloom away, you’re on the right track. Do at least one thing that brings you joy, like calling a friend or cooking your favourite meal. Start with targets you can accomplish with little effort and increase them as you progress. You’ll soon be able to complete once-difficult tasks with ease.
7. Turn On The Lights
Lightbox therapy is effective for relieving SAD symptoms. It can be challenging to get adequate vitamin D when the sun sets before you leave work. An indoor light source, however, can help. Experts recommend sitting by a 10,000-lux light for 20 to 30 minutes each day to replicate the feeling of natural sunlight. Fit a session into your daily schedule and try to be consistent.
Feeling The Winter Blues? Melt Away Your Sadness
Seek a healthcare professional if these methods don’t lift your gloomy feelings. Asking for help will bring you one step closer to happiness and contentment. Plus, uplifting yourself through internal and external support prevents you from suffering in silence.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.