The winter is marked by holiday celebrations, New Year festivities, colder temperatures, and, the blues. In an interview with The National Center for Biotechnology Information, Dr. Norman Rosenthal states that roughly 6 percent of the US population is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) this time of year, whereas another 14 percent suffer from the less severe “winter blues.”
According to Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of You are WHY You Eat, the winter blues can partially be blamed on weather change and shorter days:
“For some, the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder due to longer nights and less light can result in significant depressive symptomatology. In addition, the restrictions set by the weather – which is often less exercise, greater likelihood of cold and flu – can also increase the likelihood of depressive symptoms.”
The letdown following the holidays can also dampen moods.
“The buildup from the holidays being gone, as well as the actual holidays being done can result in a real psychological sense of ‘let down’ with folks feeling that they don’t have something to look forward to the same way they did during the weeks leading up to the holidays,” added Durvasula.
Dealing with the “winter blues” can be tough, but there are many simple steps you can take to help cope – or completely prevent – this depression. Here are 10 tips on how to overcome the Winter Blues.
- Keep warm. The cold makes you more susceptible to depression. Stay warm by wearing proper clothing and layers.
- Bright colors. Brighten up your clothes and your home. There’s enough grey and white during the winter. Wearing and seeing bright colors can make you feel more optimistic and happy.
- Stay active. Exercise has been proven to help neutralize feelings of depression, so get moving. You don’t have to go to the gym to feel the effects. Walk for 30 minutes to an hour a day to improve health and mood.
- Eat healthy. During the winter, many of us feel the need to consume everything in sight, especially those treats packed with sugar. Unfortunately, too much sugar can negatively affect us physically and mentally.
- Get some sun. The winter chill can be tough to handle, but it’s important to go outside and get natural daylight. It’s doesn’t have to be a perfect sunny day either, you’ll still feel the benefits of Vitamin D, which can increase happiness.
- Use a light lamp. With busy schedules, sometimes the day isn’t long enough to get sunlight. Light therapy using a light lamp won’t replace natural sunlight, but it will help. The lamps are at least 10 times brighter than normal home lights and can mimic a sunrise.
- Start a new hobby. Depressing moods and feelings can further develop if you mope around and think about them, so don’t let them fester by taking up a new hobby. Now is the time to try knitting, woodworking, or whatever hobby you’ve been putting off.
- Socialize. Winter turns a lot of us into homebodies, but the isolation can sour our moods quickly. If weather permits, get out of the house and meet up with friends and family and have a blast. Trapped in by bad weather? You can always use the phone or the internet.
- Give back. Volunteering in the community not only helps others, but can also help you. It gives you a sense of purpose, allowing you to combat feelings of depression.
- Seek help. If you’ve tried everything and your moods are worsening, seek help and get in touch with a medical provider. It’s possible that you’re suffering from more than just the winter blues. For more information about Seasonal Affective Disorder, click here.
SAD is a serious medical condition. Defeat the winter and overcome the gloom by following the advice above. If you’re having feelings of depression, remember to immediately contact your medical provider. Stay strong everyone, just a few more months until spring!
What do you do to fight off the winter blues? Share us your thoughts in the comments below.