Beating The Winter Blues
Don’t let winter get you down.
Many people find this time of year tough – the excitement of the holidays has passed, the bills have started to arrive, and the lack of sunlight coupled with the chilly temps can make even the sunniest personality a little blue. Seasonal Affective Disorder is when a person experiences symptoms of depression only in the winter (or summer) but has normal mental health the rest of the year. If the winter chill and short days get you down, take charge of your mental health this winter, and coast through the next few months feeling more like yourself.
Your body will find it difficult to overcome other imbalances if the following four areas are out of whack too, so start here (these are the same things I suggest starting with when I’m working with Oakville clients in counselling services):
- Eat right. Let’s hope your doing this all year round, but the concept of “comfort food” strikes a chord because so many of us would like to just hunker down and macaroni-and-cheese our way through the winter. Don’t let yourself do that. Continue to eat a healthy diet, and pay special attention to the mindless snacking that comes with “I’m stuck inside” boredom.
- Get enough sleep. While we live in a society that doesn’t always value the importance of sleep, you can buck the trend by instituting a great sleep habit over the next few months. It may not seem exciting, but good sleep habits such as going to bed and getting up at essentially the same time every day, creating a relaxing wind-down routine that you follow every night, avoiding screens in the last hour or two before bed, and making sure that you’re getting enough sleep, will all help to improve your mood.
- Get some exercise. I know, I know, the last thing you feel like doing is getting up while it’s still dark to exercise, of all things. But trust me, your mind and your body will thank you for it. Exercise is one of the most potent anti-depressants out there, so just jump right in and get your heart pumping, whatever you choose to do.
- Get out and socialize. Being isolated is one of the risk factors for depression, so make a point of seeing some friends or family, and doing something fun. The short days and lack of sunshine will be much more tolerable if you have something to look forward to. Being with friends boosts our mood and strengthens our sense of connection, so don’t let the winter chill get in your way.
And perhaps this may seem counter-intuitive, but get outside! Bundle up and head out to breathe the fresh air. Sunlight is great for your mood, and accepting the weather for what it is and looking for the fun will pump you up even further. Going for a walk, or building a snowman, or getting your heart going with an activity like skiing or sledding will revitalize you. And when you come home, strip off your snow-dusted winter gear and whip up a hot chocolate, you’ll feel better for having done something good for yourself!