How to Overcome the Winter Blues

What is the Winter Blues?

Whether you call it the winter blues, the winter blahs or seasonal sadness most people have experienced depression in the winter, which is also referred to as seasonal affective disorder. It seems like autumn goes by quickly, and we enjoy the holidays. Next, many of us are living in cold weather, with shorter days, and it seems like spring is a long way off.

Many people make the same types of changes in their lifestyle during this season, which includes:

  • Spending more time indoors
  • Being more sedentary
  • More melatonin is produced in our body when the sun sets, so we are sleepy
  • Most people tend to eat warmer and heartier foods
  • From Halloween through the holidays most people eat more sugary foods

Experts who were initially skeptical, now recognize this seasonal disorder, as it occurs to 1.7 percent of Floridians and 9.7 percent of New Hampshire residents.

Winter is Here

Source

Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD)

This disorder is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year. For most people the symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, which the zap your energy and often make you feel moody. A few people get this disorder in the spring or early summer, but this is less common.

If you are depressed and seek out medical care, they probably will recommend light therapy, psychotherapy and medications.

Common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety or loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Developing a craving for foods high in carbohydrates

Ways to Prevent Winter Blues

Develop a better understanding of your circadian rhythm, which is basically your internal body clock. The circadian rhythm regulates the body with regard to sleeping, eating and the feeling of general well-being. The way we know if we’ve been affected is a sluggish feeling during the time of day when you use to feel energetic. You may also feel exhausted when you used to feel well-rested. If you have been affected this way you can try to reset your body’s clock on the weekend by getting adequate rest, since you don’t have to wait to an alarm.

Getting a minimum of 20 minutes of sunshine per day will make a difference. I know what some of you are thinking, as I grew up in Cleveland, and we went many days in a row without sunshine. The alternative is purchasing a light box, as it emits bright light. Try exercising near a window if you have sunlight exposure. Keep your house well lit also. Try to maintain a normal pattern of sleep

Numerous Types of Lighting is Attractive

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Remain Physically Active

It can be extremely helpful to remain active, so if you live near winter activities you might take up skiing, snowboarding or any other winter sport. Other possibilities include joining a gym or yoga class. Just taking a short walk each day is helpful.

Many people have CDs or watch TV exercise programs as you do not need to leave home to exercise.


Vegetables and Fruits

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Eating Healthy

Since most of our vitamin D comes from the sun and many people do not drink enough milk, take a vitamin D pill each day, especially in the winter. Vitamin D deficiency has been recognized recently by physicians and having frequent headaches is one of the symptoms.

Researchers have learned that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happier ones. They are less likely to be depressed or anxious according to a study of 80,000 people. Essentially, the more produce people ate the happier they were.

Chamomile supplements are also useful according to a study completed by the University of Pennsylvania. Many teas have chamomile.

Protein does not spike your sugar level, and it leaves you more satisfied, so you will have less sugar cravings. It is helpful if you just simply pay attention to what you eat and how it affects you; then, you will know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid.

Socialize More Often

Even though the weather may be unpleasant it is still a good idea to schedule regular activities with friends. Make plans to eat lunch out together or go to a movie, which will often lift any depression you might be experiencing.

Another way to feel good is to volunteer your time at an animal shelter, a toy drive or numerous other agencies that desperately need help. Helping others makes you feel good.

How About You

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Pamper Yourself

Soaking in a fragrant bath while reading a book feels good. Spend your time with loved ones, cuddling up together, lighting candles and watching your favorite movie. Reading a good book while drinking a cup of your favorite TV also is relaxing. So often we are busy pleasing and caring for everyone else that we forget to pamper ourselves.

Summary

If you are experiencing the winter blues, this is a good time to try some new methods to avoid them. No one likes feeling depressed, and sometimes just changing old routines or trying new things can change your attitude.

Picking up the phone and calling a loved one you haven’t spoken with lately can cheer them up and end up cheering you up also. Just remember winter is temporary and spring is on its way.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you get the winter blues somewhat regularly, what type of climate do you live in?

  • I live in a cold, dreary climate with almost no sunny days.
  • I live in a cold climate, but we have some sunny days.
  • I live in a milder climate with some sunny days, but I still get the blues.
  • I live in a sunnier climate but I get the blues in cold weather,
  • I live in a cold, dreary climate, but never get the blues.
See results without voting

© 2014 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 50 comments

pochinuk 2 years ago

Pamela,

A splendid reminder for me. Thank you!

Pleasant wisdom from your hand!

Winter months can stir pensive moods.

I have lived in a southern Michigan cities most of my life; when I moved to the Northern Michigan countryside over a decade ago, I found home for me: I really enjoy the longer winters UP NORTH; and have had to learn, as everyone here does, how to "overcome winter blues."

-pochinuk


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Christine, I think you are exactly right. Many people would not want to live anywhere else and it is possible to overcome those blues. Thanks for sharing your experience and your comments.


btrbell profile image

btrbell 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

Thank you for this article, Pamela! I have big issues with SAD. It is much, much better since I've moved to sunny AZ! It rains less than 40 days a year and I still get depressed when it does! Up+


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I remember this from my Iowa days when the gray dreariness of winter seemed to drag on and on. Of course that's also why we love spring!

Great Hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Randi, It may be a well entrenched response to climate changes, but I'm no doctor, so I'm not sure. I hope you can overcome SAD. Thanks for sharing your experience and the comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Will, You are right, it does make spring special. I remember the dreariness so well from Ohio and now I live in northern FL and enjoy the few wintery days we have. Thanks for your comments.


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 2 years ago from USA

Great article. I grew up in a state that felt like winter was nine months out of the year. It was hard not to feel blue from Oct.-Feb.. Once I figured out what triggered it, by writing in a journal, and changing my diet, I don't seem to be affected by it as much.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

tipoague, It sounds like you found some effective ways to cope with that climate. My middle son lived in upstte NY and that pretty well describes the weather there also. He was delighted to move further south, although he is in Maryland, which still has some winter. Thanks so much for your comments.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Thanks Pamela for helping me to understand this disorder better. After reading your informative article, it all makes perfect sense. Up, across and sharing. ~ Audrey


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

,Audry, I'm glad you found this article helpful. I appreciate your comments.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

How to Overcome the Winter Blues, hmm I am trying to overcome my winter blues in Croatia it can be all of what you mentioned but I keep busy to avoid such blues. A helpful and interesting hub.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Pamela. I loved your article with so much information about the seasonal disorder. Your nursing experience has allowed hubbers to benefit in many ways. It would be nice to have more sunny days, and this winter's cold proves it. Your hubs are uplifting like a ray of sunshine. Blessings. Audrey. Pinning.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

It's an interesting subject and one I am quite familiar with. Wonderful suggestions. Here in Washington we have, on average, 85 sunny days each year. That is normal for us; I didn't really understand the winter blues until I lived in Alaska for a year; the eternal darkness really got to me.


robie2 profile image

robie2 2 years ago from Central New Jersey

I absolutely get the winter blues-- For years I said I wished I could close my eyes just before thanksgiving and wake up sometime in the middle of January. I really dragged through the holiday season and the fact that everyone else seemed to be having fun made me feel incredibly guilty. Then, I discovered I wasn't the only one and I also discovered Vitamin D and going to the gym every day without fail. These two things have made all the difference. Thanks for writing this and spreading the word. Voting it up and useful.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

DDE, Keeping busy is what I always did and still do, so I never get depressed if I have something interesting to do. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Audry, What a nice comment about my hub. I appreciate your words very much. This has been a tough winter for so many people that I thought this was a good topic. Thanks and blessings to you.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Billy, I didn't know you lived in Alaska and I can't imagine living where there is not sunshine in a 24 hour period. I think 85 sunny days a year is a little slim also, but it beats Alaska. Thanks for sharing your experience and I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

robie, I'm glad you are taking vitamin D and going to the gym, as I know that can make a big difference. As least you don't have to dread the season change that way either. Thanks for sharing your experience and your comments.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Hi Pamela, the winters in South Africa are sunny and warm. -3C (30.2F) just before sunrise is about the worse cold we can get, although some regions may go down to -5C (23F). During the day temperatures rice 10-15 grades. Always sunshine - ± 10 hours per day in winter. I will surely not survive the cold you are experiencing during your winters. Excellent and useful hub!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

I can understand the winter blues, but I have never really experienced it long term. I lived in up north until my mid twenties in the snowbelt. I enjoyed it most of the time, but when the skies are gray for over two weeks it does tend to stir up the blues. Great tips on how to keep a sunny outlook.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Martie, Your weather is probably envied by many. Where I live the winters are short and mild, so I don't have much to complin about really. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Diana, My experience is about the same as yours. It was only the longer term gloominess that bothered me. Thanks for yourself.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 2 years ago

I love the change in seasons. Each season is enjoyable to me in different ways. I love the winter. The cold and the snow make me feel cozy and inspired. In fact, as soon as it starts snowing my husband and I head outside . Coming back in and getting warm feels terrific!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Pop, I am glad to hear that you enjoy the change is seasons because I think there are more people like you. Obviously, it is not for everyone, but I really miss the beautiful autumns in the north. I also liked winter until about Feb. Then, I was ready for spring. I ghuess each to his own. Thanks for your comments.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Nice useful and informative hub and just at the right time of the winter season.

Thanks for the suggestions!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Chitrangada Sharanm, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

I dislike the winter with a passion, but i know it will pass and spring will arrive, my favorite time of the year. You listed some good tips for beating the winter blues. Thank's Pam...


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I hope they work for you and I appreciate your comments.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

Funny I should come across this hub Pamela as it seems this winter I've got a touch of the winter blues. I know a lot of personal happenings have contributed but I also know I'm suffering from it. You've provided some good suggestions and as soon as I can get my hubby motivated a bit we are joining a gym.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jo, A gym wouldhelp as excercise releases the good hormones. I hope the blues pass away from you soon. Thanks for your comments.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

Though I enjoy the outdoors and can spend hours outside, I am no fan of the freezing cold. While I realize staying in is not good for me, I often spend winter months on creative projects - a great relief for winter blues. Great suggestions - those blues need relief! (shared and tweeted)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

I do get the winter blues, I try to get out as much as possible to make sure I get the good old vitamin D! lol! but yes this winter seems to have gone on and one, only wet though, no snow. But its the grey skies that make you sad, great hub Pamela, voted up and shared! nell


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Dolores, I think the key to avoid depression is staying busy, so your creative projects are perfect. Thanks so much for your commetns.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Nell Rose, This winter has been difficult for so many and cold, rainy weather can be just as depressing as snow. I appreciate your comments and the share.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 2 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I have experienced this before, and since then have managed it well. But there were a couple of years I really struggled with it. I have worked the overnight shift for 3 1/2 of the past 4 1/2 yrs, and this time of the year it can mean I get less daylight than many people get (because I sleep during the day).

You have given some very good suggestions, and I appreciate it.

Voted up, sharing and pinning.

Have a great day!

~ Kathryn


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Kathryn, I have worked the night shift as a nurse, but I never adapted to it very well. I hope some of my suggestions work for you. Thanks for the comments, the share and the pnning. I hope you have a great day also.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Pamela, an excellent article! Each season is special in it's own unique way, I always miss the Winter when I'm living in sunnier climates, but i have to agree, the long Winter months can be pretty miserable. You've given some great ideas on how to manage the depression, it's time to check our Vitamin D levels also. Nice work, up and useful.


my_girl_sara profile image

my_girl_sara 2 years ago from Georgia

Nice to see I'm not alone in my winter blahs. I live in the south for a reason. Somehow, we got an extremely cold winter already. Most days, I just feel like hibernating. Good thing spring comes in March usually. God bless you all who live up north. I would never make it!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Jo, I am glad you found this article helpful. Vitamin D is worth getting checked in any climate as so many people run low becase they don't consume milk products. Thanks so much for yor comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Sara, I like the early spring here also. I spent many years up north and I do like season changes, but the winters are so long. I appreciate your comments.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A wonderful hub Pamela; voted up and shared.

Eddy.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Eddy, I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you for the comments and the share. Have a blessed day.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

I know so many people who experience SAD. Such a useful hub, especially this time of year


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Audry, When I lived in Ohio by Lake Erie, I knew many people, including myself, that experienced SAD some of the time. Thanks for your comments.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

These tips are sure helpful this time of year. It was warm enough to sit out some the other day and it sure did help. Thanks!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Rebecca, Just a little bit of sun helps endure those cloudy days when they come one after the other. I appreciate your comments.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

A good Hub. Several of us have written on this topic, so there is ample advice available for the S.A.D. folks who sometimes forget this is why they feel this way each year (even at other seasons, too!)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Perspycacious, Thanks for your comments.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Pamela - We're not used to the harsh winters in Oklahoma, so many of my friends complain of being tired. It has been windier than ever and very cold with little sun. We have been fortunate with lack of snow. I have been here since 1975, and hope next winter is better. We had two bad tornadoes close by in May and now have a shelter. Your hub is excellent with all sorts of good ideas. I always say to be with people. as you suggested. When I go places where we can laugh and have fun, energy seems to return. Grandkids are always fun to be around. Thanks for sharing your clever ideas , especially the light machine. Blessings, Audrey Pinning


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Audry, I am glad you found this hub helpful. It has been such a tough winter for so many people and I appreciate your comments.

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