The winter months can be a tough time of year for a lot of us. Many people suffer from what’s known as the “winter blues,” or even more serious seasonal depression – a type of depression that comes and goes with the change in seasons. While there are lots of potential causes, and no single solution for beating it all, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your mood, help yourself enjoy winter, and maybe even put those "blah" feelings behind you.
Here are a few ways to re-energize yourself during a dreary season.
If you landed on this article because you are feeling depressed, call your doctor to rule out more serious medical conditions and to get advice on how to address it.
Connect with others
A lot of the time, harsh weather means that you don't get out as much. Everyone else is feeling it to, so sometimes it will benefit you to be the one to reach out and invite people to forget about the cold for a while. It doesn't have to be anything extravagant—just put on some tunes and whip up a batch of cookies. Bonus points if you include a few people who you would like to get to know better!
You could also find an online support group on social media if it feels too hard to connect with people in real life; this can help you get over the hump and soon take that next step of having an in-person gathering.
Consider a SAD light
During the winter months, we don’t get the full spectrum of light that we get in the summer. Seasonal affective disorder lights, or SAD lights, can provide the wavelengths of light that we normally see in the summer.
These lights are powerful and can disrupt your sleep and overall circadian rhythm, so if you get one, ask your doctor about proper use. Used correctly, a lot of people find these helpful.
It's hard to add another thing to your to-do list, but it's crucial to be proactive about your mental health. Even if you don’t feel like it, make yourself do at least one thing every day that makes you happy. It could be something big – like suiting up and going out for a snowy hike – or something small, like trying a new recipe for dinner.
Address sleep troubles
Getting enough sleep could be what's messing with your moods – not only because it helps combat symptoms of the winter blues, but also because it can be hard to get up and active when you’re not well-rested . If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try making a list of things that relax you and work through it before bed – it might be having a hot shower or bath, reading for a bit, listening to soothing music, or even just spending time with your pets.
There’s a good chance you’re moving less due to being cooped up. Figure out what kinds of workouts you can do indoors, or gear up and get outside! Exercise releases endorphins, which help with feeling down as the season drags on.
If this feels like a little more than something a mood pick-me-up can tackle, always call your doctor and let them know what you’re experiencing. You need to know whether you’re dealing with a bout of sadness or real depression.