When it looks gloomy outside, sometimes it feels gloomy inside too. Does the wintertime sometimes lead to a less-than-optimal mood for you? Let’s talk about how to avoid the winter blues while you’re waiting for spring.
How to Avoid the Winter Blues
The winter season can bring a lot of fun into your life. There are the holidays, hikes in the snow, and days spent curled up cozy inside with a favorite book or movie. However, winter can bring some challenging things with it too. For example, did you know that over eleven million Americans struggle with seasonally related depression in the winter?
In other words, you aren’t alone if you’re dealing with the winter blues right now. Because our bodies rely on sunlight to regulate our sleep and moods, the lack of sunlight in the winter can result in some serious doldrums. As the days get longer and the sunlight returns, our bad moods tend to level out. But what can you do about it in the meantime? Making a plan for how to avoid the winter blues is a great way to keep yourself on track.
Talk to Your Doctor First
If you know you tend to get the winter blues every year, the first person you should go to for help is your doctor. They’ll be able to help you determine if your depression is just the winter blues, or something more serious. They can also recommend medical interventions that might be helpful, such as temporarily taking an antidepressant or trying a vitamin supplement.
Prioritize Social Interaction
One reason that people tend to get depressed in the winter is that they are more socially isolated. Bad weather can result in canceled plans or an unwillingness to leave the house, and as a result, we just see less of our friends and family. Be intentional about making a routine that allows you to see people regularly. If you need a social boost, consider taking a class or joining a new group activity for the winter.
Get Outside for Some Sunshine
It’s true that being outside during the coldest days of the year isn’t always a first-choice activity, but there’s still a lot of benefit to getting active during the winter. Exercising outside helps your body get the sunlight it needs to regulate itself, and physical activity is also a great way to help your mood. Even just bundling up and walking around the block once a day can make a difference.
Have Your Feel-Good Books and Movies Ready
On those days when winter makes it hard to go out, make sure you have everything you need for a fun and cozy day in. Seek out books that have uplifting messages and spark joy, or put on one of your favorite silly movies and laugh the afternoon away. Aside from being fun, laughter actually does have a mood-lifting effect.
Prioritize Healthy Winter Habits
If you know the winter blues are going to be an issue for you, give yourself a leg up by avoiding behaviors that make the blues worse. Consider avoiding alcohol, as it’s a known depressant that interferes with sleep. Developing and sticking to a regular bedtime routine can also help your body regulate itself in the absence of sunshine. If you need an extra boost, consider trying aromatherapy or a light therapy box to give yourself a little more support during the long winter months.
Let Your Feelings Out in a Journal
Sometimes it’s tempting to bottle bad feelings up, especially if we don’t want to bother the people around us. However, expressing your frustration with the winter blues can actually help you defeat them. Studies have demonstrated that those who journal about their depression and anxieties are able to understand their conditions better, and also have an easier time figuring out what makes them feel better. Spend a few minutes every day writing about the winter blues, and you may find the answers you’re looking for.
Most people get the winter blues at some point in the year. If you’re one of them, we hope you’re happy to know that there’s a lot more you can do about it than you might have realized. Consider a few things you can try today!
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