7 ways to beat the winter blues.
I live in a part of Canada where it is winter for 5+ months of the year. In the heart of the cold it’s not uncommon for the sun to not really be up until 9am only to have it disappear around 5pm. Then there’s the bone chilling temperatures that cause even more problems.
Regardless of where you live when the winter season arrives depression can increase during these months. For some this can manifest as seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.), for others it can increase or worsen their depressive disorder, and for a lot of the population it can lead to the winter blues.
I have not been diagnosed with S.A.D. but I do have Major Depressive Disorder. Winter makes things that I already find difficult even harder. Getting out of bed is already a hard; doing it in the dark only makes it worse. Getting outdoors to exercise is not an easy task, add those freezing temperatures and my motivation goes out the window. At times I struggle with isolation, when everyone seems to be hibernating this becomes a little more acceptable. As you can see there is no shortage of reasons why depression can either arrive or worsen during these winter months.
I have been making my way through these winter months for quite some time now, and I’ve discovered some things that help. I’d like to share my list in hopes that they can help you too, and I’d love to hear any tips you have to share.
3. Sunrise Alarm Clock
As I already mentioned, I do not like waking up in the dark. Luckily some smart people came up with sunrise alarm clocks. These devises mimic the sunrise and at the set time bring light to the morning. A good variety can be found on Amazon. This is the one I have. http://a.co/d/3VXyPeZ
2. Vitamin D
I seriously recommend getting your vitamin d tested the next time you see your doctor during the winter months. A few years ago in the middle of January my doctor did just that and we discovered I was extremely deficient. Vitamin D largely comes from the sun, and so it makes sense that it would decrease in this season. Vitamin D deficiency can mimic the symptoms of depression. Personally while it didn’t “cure” me, I noticed a significant increase in energy.
3. Join a group
Find a group to join during these months to help stop isolation. In the past I’ve joined a weekly yoga class, a choir, and a group of friends who met weekly to watch certain TV shows. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy, just something that will encourage you to see other people on a regular basis. If it’s exercised based then you will get double benefits. You might be surprised how much just seeing other people can lift your spirits.
4. Go to special events
Going to special events can also help with the isolation, as well as giving something to look forward to. Some of the events I check out are the various holiday craft shows, hockey games, and choirs and other concerts. Again these don’t need to be expensive events; there are generally plenty of free or low cost options. It’s these type of simple outings that give me something to think about during the week, and helps to give me that extra little push out the door.
5. All things warm and cozy
If it’s the cold that’s got you down then do your best to fight it. Keep a stash of warm goodies around you that helps with getting through the day. Some of my favorite items are heated blankets, microwavable heating pads, warm baths, and the best cozy clothing I can find. Some other things you might find useful are; heat packs, flannel sheets, space heaters, cup warmers, and the list could go on.
6. Light Therapy
Some folks benefit from another type of intervention that is called light therapy. Generally this is a type of lamp you sit in front of daily that mimics the sun and kinda tricks your brain and body into thinking your getting sunshine. These lights usually don’t come cheap, and it’s important to buy one that has a therapeutically proven light strength, so do your research before making a purchase. It may be worth your while to check if anyone you know has one you can borrow before you commit to buying one. Some cities have programs that allow people the use of these lights either at a facility or to take home, and I’ve even heard of library programs where these lights are available. So if you are interested do some snooping around to see what comes up. Personally I haven’t found these lights to help with my mood, but for some people they are very helpful.
7. Go out for Cocoa, Coffee & Tea
Who doesn’t love a good cup of something delicious? I certainly do. This can be a short excursion, a get together with friends, or whatever you want to make of it. I find that some times it’s the simple things that can be really helpful, and in this case also taste good.
All year round I to go to therapy, take my medications, and use various coping other strategies – and I add in these extras to help me through these literally darker days. While my suggestions won’t cure winter depression, they can help alleviate it. The important thing is to find what works for you, and then actually do it. Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments.