For me, the sadness starts in August. As soon as the kids go back to school, I start to feel cold air on my neck. I know winter is just around the corner. Football season starts. The days get shorter. The wind blows colder. I get depressed. I have the winter blues.
The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects about half a million people each year in the US, most of them women. SAD usually starts and ends around the same time each year. Some symptoms include sadness, anxiety, irritability, lack of energy, social withdrawal and weight loss or gain.
Rather than hide under the covers and wait it out, here are 13 tips to help you beat the blues and get back to normal:
1. Take Your Vitamins
When I moved to Cleveland a few years ago, I found out that my vitamin D levels were low. So low that I had to take a prescribed mega dose for a few months just to get it back to normal. With less sunlight and my tendency to hibernate during the winter, it’s no surprise that my body’s supply was depleted. In addition to keeping your bones healthy, research has shown that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D are also important for good mental health.
A recent study found meditation to ease anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing meditation can help you relax, lower stress, clear your mind and develop a deeper sense of self.
3. Start Moving
Here’s yet another good reason to work out. Exercising for at least 15 minutes a day can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and relieve stress. If you do it outside, you can get your vitamin D as well.
4. Try Aromatherapy
Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote healing. When inhaled or applied to the body, essential oils can relax and restore balance to the mind, body and spirit. Citrus oils like grapefruit, lemon, orange and bergamot are known to uplift and energize. These oils are very potent and should be used sparingly. Just add a few drops to a carrier oil like grapeseed or jojoba for massage or use an aromatherapy diffuser to scent the air.
5. Treat Yo Self
“Treat Yo Self” was created by characters Tom and Donna from NBC’s Parks and Recreation. It’s a day of treating yourself to whatever you want—clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas, and fine leather goods. Whatever you decide, doing something special for yourself is bound to lift your spirits.
Getting lost in a good book can be a great escape from everyday life. Using your imagination to picture characters, settings, and travel to distant places can help exercise your mind and relieve stress.
Finding ways to help others in need can go a long way to boost your mood, alleviate stress and increase confidence. Visit VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities to work with organizations in your area.
8. Go Outside
In addition to increasing your vitamin D levels, a dose of outdoors can increase energy and boost your immune system.
9. Try Light Therapy
Light therapy boxes mimic outdoor light and cause a chemical change in the brain that improves your mood. You can find these boxes in stores and online. Just make sure you do some research to find the right light box for you.
10. Get Away
Whether an overnight stay at a hotel or a tropical vacation, taking some time to reflect, refocus, and rejuvenate in a different setting can do wonders for your mental state.
Did you know that the color of your walls could impact your mood? Colors like green and yellow are happy colors, while blue is soothing and calm. Check out this color chart to help pick the right mood-boosting color for you.
12. Create Something To Look Forward To
The only good thing about the winter blues is that they don’t last for long. I look forward to February. The spring lines hit the stores, football season ends, and I know the worst is over. That’s when my countdown begins. Before I know it, buds start to appear on the trees, the days get a little longer, and I start to come out of my shell. Bye bye winter blues, spring is here!
13. Get Help
If you suffer from a more serious case of SAD or any form of depression, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional help. Your doctor can provide a treatment plan and resources to help you manage your depression.
What other tips do you have for beating the winter blues?