The shortest day of the year has come and gone, and we are on the upswing towards longer days. Even so, we still have several months to go of limited daylight. Once the festive lights of Christmas are stored away, it is not uncommon to start feeling a bit down. You may notice that you are feeling less energized, unmotivated and a bit more melancholy than usual. If this is true for you, it is possible that you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD, commonly known as the winter blues, is a real phenomenon and it is actually a lot more common than you might think! Seasonal depression can range from quite mild to severe. For many, it is something that can be worked through by implementing the right techniques to keep the winter blues at bay. For others with more serious episodes of depression, medication and therapy are necessary. If you find yourself in either scenario, know that your mental health is invaluable and there are always things you can do to recognize your feelings and take care of yourself. To help get you started, we have outlined a few self-care strategies to get you through the winter months.
- Surround Yourself with Light – There is something to be said about twinkling lights beyond the Christmas season. Watching the sky darken at 4 pm can bring on feelings of anxiety. Try adding a little bit of warmth to your environment by putting up permanent lights around your home. These fairy lights from Wayfair are really beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Additionally, it is possible that seasonal depression is caused by a disruption of the circadian rhythms and there are lights specifically made to help reset your internal clock. Amazon has several options to choose from.
- Go Outdoors – Another way to help your body physiologically is to bundle up and brave the cold by taking a walk outside. Just like a plant, we need sunlight to thrive. Not only is it important to absorb the limited amount of vitamin D available during the winter months, but there is also something to be said for simply connecting to nature.
- Stay Warm – Feeling cold can contribute to feelings of depression. Keep the warmth going by taking a hot bath or cozying up to a good book with a blanket and some tea. Even exchanging cold meals for hot can make a difference! Try out roasted veggies or a loaded vegetable soup for delicious, warm food options.
- Do an Activity That Brings You Joy – Winter is the perfect time to find a new hobby or reignite a passion for an old pastime. Read a novel, start a puzzle, take a bath, or try your hand at woodworking. Do something that keeps your mind active, yet relaxed. Adult coloring books are an excellent option. Check out this articleby The Muse to see the best places to purchase a coloring book.
- Get Adequate Rest – Take a cue from the bears and hibernate. During the winter season, it may help to go to bed early and give your body the rest that it craves. Studies show that most adults (as well as, children and teens!) are not getting enough sleep. Adults should get a minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Children and teens need between 8 and 14 hours of sleep a day, depending on age.
- Talk to Someone – Simply taking the time to talk about what’s going on can give you a great sense of relief. If you do not have anyone you feel comfortable airing out your feelings to, consider looking for a therapist. Talk therapy can be quite effective if done regularly and with a trained counselor. Brainfacts.org has a great video explaining how talk therapy works and the potential benefits it provides.
If you, a friend or a family member are feeling hopeless and/or are having thoughts of suicide you can call the Crisis & Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.