Action Plan to Beat Wintertime Blues
Settling into winter, post-holiday rush can feel overwhelming. Winter blues are a real thing, whether or not you have diagnosable Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is major depressive disorder related to seasons, and in order to meet the criteria, symptoms must be present two years during the season with symptoms going away for the rest of the year. Most often, this is during winter months, when there is less sunlight, but it can occur during summer months as well. Even if you don’t meet the criteria for SAD, you may notice, you have similar symptoms.
With the new year is in full swing, many people feel symptoms of depression or general blues. Even milder symptoms can make productivity harder during the winter season. If you’re struggling this winter, there are things you can do to help.
General feelings of fatigue and lethargy are among the most commonly noted changes when we enter into colder months. If you notice that you are feeling this way, it’s important to be aware that it could be connected to the change in seasons/weather. Reduction in sun exposure is a large component of this. Taking the opportunity to get as much exposure to daylight as you can, will help a lot. Using part of your lunch break to get outside or opting to get off the train a little early on your morning commute can add a few much-needed minutes outside. If you have the option, choosing to sit close to windows when you can will also boost the amount of light you get while indoors. Some recommend the use of light therapy as a way of helping with the reduction of light, through the use of artificial light, believed to help with mood and sleep related issues.
In addition to less light during winter months, the cold tends to take us inside more, with a natural tendency to slow down. This downshift in activity can also add to tiredness, loss of interest/pleasure and general feelings of sadness. Finding ways to be active during winter months is very important to combat these symptoms. Having scheduled activities, from outings with friends to workout classes. Research shows that having something scheduled in addition to following through on the activity will help to feel motivated and hopeful.
Social connection can be helpful buffer against wintertime blues. Finding ways to be around others during wintertime can help alleviate some of the symptoms. Planning to hang out with friends, signing up for a winter sports league or volunteering can all help you feel less isolated, which is a common feeling for many during this time.
If any of the symptoms mentioned above do not alleviate, and you think you might be struggling with SAD, reach out to a professional. They can help you identify and plan for next steps.