Countless studies show that winter can prove difficult for a lot of people. In this insightful post, expert Dr. Gemma Gladstone offer ten ways to help you beat the winter blues and enjoy yourself throughout this sometimes dark and dreary season.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE: If you are suffering from severe depression or suicidal thoughts, seek professional help immediately. Suicide hotline in the US: 1-800-273-8255. This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for qualified help from a medical professional.
Get ready to enjoy winter!
The inner inclination to wallow in negative thoughts becomes stronger due to one’s inability to go out and interact with other people grows stronger during the winter. Those who fall under the melancholic atmosphere, are especially prone to dwelling on negativity. Loss of hope, fear for the future, and constant sadness can prevail and lead to harmful personal behavior.
So, if you are among those who get depressed and unmotivated during the winter season, it helps to be aware of this condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This way, you can catch yourself and decide to rise above it, which is not as difficult as you might think.
There are various easy yet scientifically-backed strategies that can help you overcome the winter blues. Rounded up below are ten of them.
If you want to learn how to handle the blues that often come with winter, try the scientifically proven 10 tips below.
1. Try light therapy
Most treatment facilities for people who suffer from depression and bipolar disorder use seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lights to bring relief from symptoms.
Among the common ideas about seasonal affective disorder is that it is the result of lower levels of outdoor light. This impacts people’s biological clock and disrupts the body’s normal production of melatonin and serotonin. This then can lead to drowsiness and depression.
SAD lights can serve as an alternative to the sun, whose rays contribute to proper hormonal functioning. Therefore, when cold and dark out, using these lights may improve your mood.
2. Engage in physical activities
Although the winter season drives most people into hibernation mode, for those who suffer from the winter blues, it’s better to be as physically active as possible. Sign up at the gym or follow some workout videos on YouTube.
Exercise has long been proven to stimulate the body’s release of endorphins or happy hormones. Likewise, it helps the body complete the stress response cycle, which culminates in relaxation.
Exercise is a terrific way to alleviate the winter blues
3. Modify your diet
There are foods known as natural antidepressants. They improve mood, as well as instantly gratify. Some of the best foods to include in your diet are fatty fish rich in omega 3, such as salmon and tuna. Those rich in antioxidants such as dark chocolate and blueberries are hugely helpful as well, especially in clearing mental fog.
Smart carbohydrates found in whole grain bread, legumes, pasta, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables, meanwhile, have a calming effect. Almonds, on the other hand, have high levels of magnesium, which boosts the body’s production of serotonin (the other happy hormone), and selenium.
4. Embrace nature
Forest therapy is recommended for people who are suffering from anxiety and depression. Even if the vegetation isn’t lush in the winter, head to where the trees are, and there would still be that unique scent, which increases the activity of natural killer cells in the body.
One of the things these killer cells do is boost the immune system, which improves resistance against the symptoms of depression.
Spending time in nature has a way of helping you maintain a good mood all winter long
5. Practice mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness has been proven to lower blood pressure and improve skills in self-analysis to banish toxic belief systems. Thus, it is a worthy effort in keeping depression at bay, particularly during the winter.
A psychologist in Bondi Junction even adds that mindfulness through meditation will make you more patient and prevent you from getting emotionally hijacked easily.
Here’s what to do: Focus on your breathing, listen to its pattern, and extract yourself from the feelings that are weighing you down. Also, imagine your cares and negative thoughts as paper boats on flowing water, drifting away. Restore your well-being and conclude the practice feeling refreshed and clearer minded. Make this a daily habit.
Book recommmendations on mindfulness ...
6. Release the thoughts and feelings that are weighing you down
Do not tuck away your thoughts and feelings. Instead, let them flow out of you.
Book a therapy session. Start a journal where you can document everything and study behavioral patterns to correct. Or, find a friend who will listen to you when you need to lift the burden off your back. Be as genuine as you can about how you are feeling.
This is one of the best ways to help yourself. When you are being driven inwards, fight it through such outward actions. Even if, at times, the relief you feel is temporary, at least, you get to feel better even for just a moment. This is still a victory for your mental health, and little victories always count.
7. Get enough sleep
Insomnia can be a problem for a lot of people dealing with depression. But, there are ways to fight it. You can turn to your physician who can prescribe you natural sleep aids like melatonin.
Your doctor can provide you with different pieces of advice on how to sleep more quickly, such as a few lifestyle changes. When you start getting enough sleep, you will automatically see a difference in your stress levels and the clarity of mind you have in dealing with yourself and situations.
A weighted blanked may help you reduce anxiety and get better sleep in the winter. The blanket above is available on Amazon.
8. Practice gratitude
According to Doug Veermeeran, the producer, director, and author of “The Gratitude Experiment,” gratitude reduces stress and depression and boosts a sense of wellbeing.
Gratitude can turn anything burdensome into a blessing. It’s a shift in perspective and approach to life. It allows you to acknowledge negativity and transform it into a challenge or opportunity for something good to arise.
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9. Stop procrastinating
During the winter, the cold can make you lazy and lethargic. But, instead of just staying cooped up in your bedroom, aim to accomplish different responsibilities — be productive.
Doing this will not only create a diversion and put a halt to your negative spiral, but it will also free you from concerns that may be stressing you out.
10. Initiate physical affection
Stop waiting for people to open their arms to you, instead, open your arms to everybody. Physical affection engages the different senses, and the warmth it produces extends to the person you are embracing and finds its way back to you.
It’s worthy to note, too, that physical affection such as kissing, hugging, and holding hands increase the body’s oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a calming and pain-reducing hormone.
Overcome the winter blues
There’s no denying that the winter season can be a downer for some people. But, the important thing is to acknowledge that things are not all well with you, and then take steps to regain control of your quality of life.
Use the tips shared above, and reach out. There are trained professionals who are ready to help. They will guide you out of the cold and lonely tunnel, and back into the light.
About the author
Dr. Gemma Gladstone is an endorsed clinical psychologist and certified schema therapist, supervisor and trainer. Along with Justine Corry, she is co-director of the Good Mood Clinic in Sydney and has 24 years of experience within mental health.