How To Beat The Winter Blues
The weather is colder, the days are shorter and many struggle to maintain a happy, healthy mindset. This time of year, during the cold, dank, dreary months of winter, seasonal affective disorder, SAD, sets in for many people, and according to Psychology Today they often suffer symptoms like extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low motivation and weight gain. The good news is, there are ways to manage symptoms of SAD and depression. Here are a few ways you can battle the winter blues:
During the winter it is tempting to eat heavy comfort food, but it is important to consume mostly vegetables, fruit and lean proteins, especially if you are prone to depression. Over the past couple of years studies have begun to show a strong relationship between diet and mental health- that a healthy diet can help prevent and treat depression. So if you are suffering symptoms of SAD, think about what you are eating, consider what you're eating. Research suggests a Mediterranean-style diet made up of fruits, vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, yogurt and cheese, nuts, whole grains, seafood and lean red meat leads to a healthy mind and body, and recommend eliminating fried and processed foods.
According to Harvard Medical School, exercise helps "improve moods and mental functioning." So if you notice you are exercising less than usual, or not at all, try integrating it into your routine a couple of times a week, then build on that. It is an important component to physical and mental health, so if you find you’re struggling to manage your mood, consider increasing your exercise.
Surround Yourself With Good People
If there are people who irritate you or make you feel badly about yourself, curtail the time you spend with them (if you must spend time with them at all), and spend more time with people who bring out the best in you. Who you surround yourself with is so important, make sure they are people who love and support you and are not toxic.
Check Something Off Your Bucket List
One way to motivate yourself when you're struggling is to do something for yourself. What have you been meaning to do that always seems to fall by the wayside? Read a particular book? Start a new project? Take up a new hobby? Learn a language? Go on a trip? Start setting aside time to do something for yourself that you've been meaning to do, it is good for your mental health and will help reenergize you.
Spend Time By A Fire
According to a study from the University of Alabama, sitting by a fire decreases blood pressure and helps you relax. The warmth, the crackling sounds, the smoky smell and light of a fire helps soothe and comfort, especially when it is cold.
One reason your moods may be inconsistent is you are not getting the vitamins and nutrients you need. Make sure you are taking a multi-vitamin, and this time of year perhaps a vitamin D supplement if you live in a cold climate. Consult with your doctor and determine if there is a particular supplement you may need to make sure your system is balanced and healthy. A vitamin deficiency may be the cause of inconsistent moods or fatigue.
Manage Your Screen Time
Cold weather often means we spend more time indoors, and that tempts us to spend more time watching television, looking at our computer screen or playing on our phone. Too much screen time diminishes mood, builds fatigue and creates too many distractions. Try making a point to put down devices and step away from screens if you are suffering.
Even though it is cold outside, bundle up and make sure to get some fresh air. Getting fresh hair increases your energy, reduces stress and depression and improves the quality of sleep. Make it a point to go outside and go for a walk to clear your head.
If you are really struggling with depression and symptoms of SAD, and have the means, a weekend somewhere warm may be the ticket. It will give you something to look forward to and it will address your vitamin D deficiency.
If you are suffering and nothing you try is working, you should seek professional help. No one needs to suffer alone and needlessly, so reach out to a therapist or a trusted friend or family member.