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.
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:
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety or loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed
- Loss of energy
- Social withdrawal
- 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
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
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.
Pamper Yourself and Communicate
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.
Sometimes the person who tries to keep everyone happy is the most lonely person. It is possible to hide your emotions. Good, open communication is very important.
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?
© 2014 Pamela Oglesby