Are You Feeling The Winter Blue?
Have you ever noticed that January is just kind of blah? Maybe it’s the lull after the busy holiday season, or the cold, dreary weather that’s got you feeling just not quite right. You aren’t alone if you’ve noticed that you just don’t feel right lately, you may be feeling the winter blue.
What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
According to Mayo Clinic, winter blue also known as SAD is defined as “a type of depression related to the change in seasons.” The late fall and winter months are the most common time to feel the effects of SAD; most people find January to be the worst.
Many experts believe that low levels of a brain chemical called serotonin may have an important part to play in the winter blues. In particular, serotonin affects our sleep, mood, and appetite centers, so when levels are low, we’re more likely to feel tired, depressed, and hungry. Indeed, research has found that sufferers of SAD have lower levels of serotonin in the winter months.
Like many women, I suffer from winter blue every year. January is always filled with mixed feelings. Part of me feels motivated as the year starts and there are so many goals and goals that I want to achieve. On the other hand, before putting myself together, I find it hard to do much of anything.
I don’t feel inspired and creative. The freezing cold weather makes many of us just want to hibernate under a comfy blanket all day. There is no desire to leave the couch, change my pajamas, get on the proper attire to get out into the world, or to start the “annual workout plan.”
Winter blue can zap your energy, making you feel sluggish, exhausted, and cranky.
What are the SAD symptoms?
In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
Signs and symptoms of SAD include:
- Low energy and feeling sluggish
- Feeling sad or down nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too much
- Food cravings, overeating, and weight gain
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, guilty, or lost
Do you experience oversleeping, appetite changes, tiredness, or low energy at this time of the year?
Winter depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a chemical imbalance that affects the way you think, feel, and go about your day. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed, you feel persistently sad for weeks or months rather than just a few days.
Depression is a real illness with real symptoms; it is not a sign of weakness or something you can just “get over and deal with.” Some symptoms are invisible. For example, you can still show up to work, but without a focused mind.
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to your body and well-being and seek help if necessary.
List of mental illness programs
Here are 12 Tips to Ease the Winter Blues:
Regular exercise is a wonderful tool for overcoming depression and major depressive disorder. Although exercise isn’t a cure-all solution, plenty of research has shown that staying active can reduce or even prevent the symptoms of depression.
According to research by the Journal of Neurology, exercise can significantly improve depressive symptoms and the quality of life. Adding to the research results from The American Journal of Psychiatry, engaging in physical activity at your personal intensity level for at least one hour per week could prevent 12% of depression in the future.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, painful, or all-consuming. Develop a balanced exercise plan that fits you. If you are unsure which workout programs to implement, maybe you can be creative. Your activities can alternate between walking, cycling, running, and swimming. Perhaps taking your family on a weekend hike can make your exercise routine more enjoyable.
Start low and progress slowly. You don’t have to do all the exercises at one time. Listen to your body and be flexible.
2. Get outside for fresh air and sunshine
We know that daylight exposure boosts mood. Time spent in the sun increases your serotonin and helps you stave off the winter blue. Sun exposure can also help people with anxiety and depression, especially in combination with other treatments.
Little or no sun exposure may put a person at risk of low vitamin D levels, but too much UV exposure from the sun or artificial sources can increase the risk of skin cancers and eye disease. Apply an acceptable amount of sunscreen before the walk and take adequate sunlight daily.
Getting outside for fresh air and sunshine can help with sleep and memory, and it can improve physical health, such as strengthening bones and lowering blood pressure.
3. Eat well, eat healthily and eat enough—still don’t gain weight
While experts agree that some of the main treatments for winter blue include counseling and medication, food can also be therapy for the winter blues.
Whether you are eating normally or specifically to beat the winter blues, it is important to eat regularly. Don’t skip meals because it will result in lower blood sugar levels and leave you feeling tired and irritable, with a lack of focus.
Of course, if we choose our food and eat mindfully, we won’t end up piling on the pounds. When your willpower is weakened, the chances are you may want to pick up doughnuts, chocolates, or potato chips to kill your hunger.
During the winter blues, it is a good time to set your intentions. Perhaps declutter your kitchen by removing all junk food from the kitchen counter. Replace it with food that can boost levels of serotonin in the brain—the “feel-good” chemical that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep—such as wholegrain bread and cereals, porridge, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, fruit, and vegetables.
Many protein-rich foods such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds are also naturally rich in tryptophan, which can increase brain levels of serotonin. Vitamin B6 is needed to help convert tryptophan into serotonin. Add fish, brown rice, soya beans, oats, peanuts, walnuts, avocado, to your diet to give your serotonin a serious boost.
4. Start your day with a positive mind
Winter blues can last from a few days to several weeks. Some can be months. It is important to start your day with a positive mind.
In the morning, try to avoid grabbing your phone right away. Give yourself enough time to wake up. While waking up, you can think about one positive thing that has happened to you in the last 24 hours. Think of another thing that you are grateful for. The trick is to immerse yourself in the feeling of gratitude for a couple of minutes. Close your eyes and be completely present in the experience.
Practicing this daily can put you on the positive side of a calm and focused mind.
People use essential oils as complementary treatments for many conditions, including depression. According to a review on aromatherapy and depression, essential oils were shown to be an effective option for the relief of depressive symptoms.
A more recent study suggests that certain essential oils can have an anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing effect, which increases the production of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for mood, sleep, and other important body functions.
It’s important to note that essential oils aren’t a cure for depression. They’re a drug-free option that may relieve some of your symptoms and help you manage the condition. In most cases, with proper and careful use, essential oils are safe to use.
Related article: Aromatherapy for Depression provides a list of smells that can be useful for depression.
6. CBD oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become incredibly popular recently as more and more people learn about its amazing benefits. It is known as a cannabinoid, and is found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil or capsules is a natural remedy for relief from stress, anxiety, and depression, or to improve sleep quality.
Related articles: CBD wellness
7. Goal Planning
Do you start every new year with a long list of everything you want to achieve? In the end, you find it hard to follow and have trouble meeting them.
According to the book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, you should map your goals and schedule your time block. This book delivers a powerful strategy for taking back control of your time and reorganizing your goals visually. By the end of the book, you can clearly see the one thing you should be focusing on day-by-day to meet your desired goals.
Start with something small (and important). Spending time setting goals can motivate you to do the thing you should be doing today and now.
“Every great change starts like falling dominoes.”—BJ Thornton.
8. Journaling out your worries
Blogging is my way of writing out my feelings. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts. Get it all out and off your shoulders. Journaling can help you to listen to yourself and understand “Why” you are going through winter blues. Writing it out can help you acknowledge the situation first before you have a chance to connect to them.
9. Sleep well, sleep enough
Sleep well, sleep early but don’t sleep in! Winter blues often make you want to stay inside your comfy bed without changing pajamas for the whole day. If you find yourself dreading waking up, perhaps engaging in something pleasurable first thing in the morning can motivate you to kick off a busy day. Prepare yourself with a nice breakfast to fuel your day.
I usually have a cup of coffee before preparing breakfast and waking the kids up for school. When the kids wake up, I hug them and say, “I love you.” Some people may enjoy doing gentle stretches, meditation, yoga flow, or breathing exercises.
10. Take it easy with the workload at the beginning
If you have control over your workload, try to understand the day that is your most productive. A heavy workload to start the day can negatively affect your physical health and productivity. If it is possible, try to start light, but don’t slack!
Try to prepare things in advance the night before a busy day, such as laying out clothes, packing your bags, or having your coffee/tea pot washed and ready to use. These simple actions are within your control and can help you get to the office desk more calmly.
11. Find ways to enjoy yourself, or practice self-care
When the mood drops, most people start to neglect their own needs. Often, we unknowingly ignore all the things that can make us happy such as music, cooking class, or outdoor social activities.
To keep yourself motivated during these times of struggle, all you need is a little pick-me-up activity to lift the mood, such as a hot shower, lighting up your favorite candle, gardening, or visiting your favorite flower shops.
Winter blues can be dull and dreary. But your health—body, mind, and soul—are important to keep you going. We must be kind to all parts of our being to find true and total wellness. We’re all in this together!
12. Talk to someone
Sometimes, SAD isn’t something you can get rid of quickly by doing the above things. They certainly help, but sometimes reaching out to someone with experience may help more. Do not be afraid to speak to people about your SAD. Everyone has a different journey. Talking to my close friends and receiving therapy was a life-changing decision, and I encourage you to do so if that is the best path for you.
- Remote Mental Health Resources Guide for 2022 – While telehealth isn’t particularly new, the demand for online counseling has surged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some professionals have returned to their traditional offices, many clinicians have opted for an entirely virtual practice. And pandemic or not, it appears this popular online trend isn’t going anywhere.
- Guide to Online Counseling. Online counseling offers tremendous accessibility, flexibility, and convenience — both for therapists and their clients. It undoubtedly creates more opportunities for dynamic mental health care.
With that in mind, it’s important to understand the concept, benefits, and risks associated with this type of treatment. Let’s get into what you need to know!
Venturing Forth: A Memoir of Resilience and Transformation. Join Hsin Chen on her inspiring journey to overcome adversity, including COVID, mental health challenges, parenting doubts, and post-divorce dating. Discover the power of positivity and mindfulness in finding serenity within life’s chaos.
For more information, click HERE