If colder weather and shorter days make you feel sad or down, you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon to experience symptoms like fatigue, sadness, difficulty concentrating, and a disruption in your sleep schedule during the colder months of the year. For some, this mood change is temporary, but for others, the winter blues can become a more severe form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The good news? There are plenty of effective tips you can try for how to beat the winter blues.
Also known as the January Blues, the winter blues usually occur during the winter season, specifically from November to January, more or less. During this time, winter blues can cause symptoms like difficulty sleeping, sadness or feeling down, lack of motivation, poor concentration, and tiredness. While feeling sad every once in a while isn’t a bad thing – rather a normal thing – sadness becomes a problem when it interferes with your ability to function daily.
For many people, the fall and winter months lead to sadness, mainly due to a lack of sunlight and shorter days. It’s also more difficult to remain active and spend time with others in places that receive a lot of snow. If unaddressed, this temporary winter sadness can become SAD, which causes people to exhibit signs of major depressive disorder. This could lead to isolation from loved ones and even anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure.)
To prevent symptoms from getting severe, here are some tips for beating the winter blues that can help.
A simple way to boost your mood is to monitor what you eat. Foods that are high in simple carbs and sugars can lead to fatigue, bloating, and an overall crash, which can contribute to a depressive mood. Consuming protein with breakfast, lunch, and dinner can enhance mood and prevent cravings for sugar and carbs throughout the day.
Also, considering that you’re probably exposed to less sunlight during this season, eating foods high in vitamin D like fatty fish, fish oil, milk, orange juice, breakfast cereal, yogurt, and other food sources can help balance mood, as well. If you’re still struggling to get enough vitamin D throughout the winter months, reach out to your doctor about supplements.
Sleep is a major component of mood and overall body and mind function. Without adequate, consistent sleep, our circadian rhythm can get thrown off, which also disrupts our cortisol rhythms and hormonal production. All of these elements play a role in our mood. Some tips for better sleep you can try include:
Physical activity is one of the most common winter mental health tips out there, and for a good reason. Exercise has been shown to boost mood, decrease depressive symptoms, and reduce stress. Start slowly and build your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week. Fitness-related activities you can try include going for walks or runs, yoga, swimming, and strength training. Getting outside daily, even if it’s just to have your morning coffee or tea, can have a huge impact on your mood, as well.
While there are plenty of self-sufficient tips you can follow on how to beat the winter blues, sometimes improving your mood is as simple as talking to a loved one. Since both winter and sadness can be isolating, the best way to combat the feeling is to stay connected with loved ones, whether it’s through Facetime, phone calls, texting, or even bearing the cold and hanging out.
Getting outside needs to be a priority during the winter months. Since SAD symptoms are worsened by lack of sun exposure, soaking up the sun – even if the cold bites – is critical. Being in the sunlight helps balance serotonin, increases melatonin production, balances your circadian rhythm, and increases vitamin D levels, all of which can improve your state of mind.1 If you can’t get outdoors, move your chair, workstation, or kitchen table next to a window that lets sunlight in and sit there for at least two hours a day.
Taking care of your mental health includes taking care of your overall health. This means not neglecting check-ups with your primary doctor, dental visits, and any other ongoing wellness appointments. For those in addiction recovery, our Pompano Beach treatment center offers telehealth services that allow you to connect with our team remotely to ensure you receive continued care even in the harsh winter months.
While these mental health tips for winter can help you get through the winter blues, if you notice that your sadness has become more severe and isolating or has persisted past winter, it’s time to get help. Our Pompano rehabilitation center offers Florida mental health services, including depression treatment, to help people who may be struggling with their mental well-being and need professional care to regain their control and rhythm in life.
For more information about our addiction and mental health treatment in Pompano, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.