Every year around this time of year the sky grows darker and the air gets colder. For many people, depression sets in. It’s a condition commonly known as SAD. Winter depression can be severe and debilitating. If you suffer from winter depression, be encouraged that there are positive steps you can take to beat the winter blues. Read on to learn how to manage your winter depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter Blues
The long, cold and dark winter season causes many people to feel down in the dumps. The degree to which they feel depressed varies widely. Some may experience full-blown depression while others simply seem to have the mild case of the blues. Most people assume they have Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This isn’t always true. The treatment for SAD and the winter blues is quite different.
If you struggle with depression during the winter months, it can be tough. Finding the right treatment and diagnosis is key.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder is also referred to as SAD. It is not the winter blues. It affects people on a regular basis. Each fall and winter, as the sky grows colder and darker, people begin to experience this heavy sense of depression.
Symptoms of SAD include but are not limited to:
* Feelings of hopelessness
* Social withdrawal
* Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
* Appetite changes and weight gain
* Difficulty concentrating and focusing
* Lack of energy and difficulty sleeping
If these symptoms persist for more than a few days and consistently every year, you probably have SAD. It’s important to see your doctor and get properly diagnosed.
Because SAD is often caused by lower levels of melatonin and serotonin, treatment for SAD may include
* Light therapy
* Home therapy
Self care including dietary changes, yoga, meditation and supplementation that have been shown to improve SAD.
The winter blues is just as common as SAD. The difference is that the winter blues doesn’t last as long and may not show up like clockwork like SAD does when the seasons change. The winter blues often happen when a person is feeling down for a couple of days. Many times getting out and socializing, exercising and making a few dietary changes can help you to kick the winter blues to the curb.
There’s nothing wrong with you. Many people experience an occasional bout of the blues. And the winter is a common time for it to creep up. The sky is dark. The air is cold. People donít get as much fresh air and sunshine as they need.
Fun Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Scandinavian countries have a long and intense winter. They understand the importance of Hygge, which is is a great way to make your home cozier and boost your spirits. Little touches around your home can make a big difference. In fact, something as simple as a cheerful photo or a splash of color can change your perspective. During the winter months it can be difficult to think positively. Try some these simple tricks to lighten the mood.
Paint. Color can have a big impact on your mood. Cheerful colors like yellow, orange and purple can make you smile. Soft blues and greens can instill a sense of calm. You don’t have to go crazy and paint your entire home. Simply paint a wall or two in your favorite room.
Add flowers. Flowers always brighten any room and mood. Add a pretty bouquet of your favorite flowers to a table. Be sure you can see them when you enter the room. Daisies and bouquets of mixed flowers are generally inexpensive and can last a long time on your table. You might even consider joining a flower of the month club so this delightful splash of color comes to you on a monthly basis.
Accessorize. Add some pretty throw pillows or a new area rug to add fresh color to a room. Many people change their home decor to complement the season. You can add some brightly-colored items during the winter months to add some cheer to your home. Find colors that make you smile and feel good. A little bit of cheer can go a long way during the gray winter days.
Candles. Candles are a great way to create a dozy atmosphere. They provide more than aroma and light therapy. They come in every size, color and shape imaginable. You can add whimsy to your home and soften the mood while also adding color. Candles can brighten a room and your day. Look for candles that come in invigorating citrus scents and bright colors.
Photos, paintings and decorations. Find some colorful pictures to display or hang on your wall. It can be anything from a photo of a loved one or a piece of modern art. You’ll want to choose something that makes you smile. Try creating a collage of family photos and mounting them on a colorful background. You can frame this with a store-bought frame to create instant cheer.
Exercise to Beat the Winter Blues
You probably know that exercise can alleviate depression. Getting outside and exercising gets your heart pumping and improves circulation, giving you a nice mood boost. It also gives you the fresh air and sunshine your body craves.
If you absolutely can’t get outside, exercising indoors can help too.
Take a daily walk. Unless the weather is unsafe due to ice or extreme temperatures, there’s lots of value to good some old-fashioned fresh air and sunshine. The sunshine stimulates production of vitamin D which improves mood. Sunshine also helps your body manage stress. Taking a daily walk gets your body moving without the pressure of fitness performance. Aim to walk for twenty to thirty minutes a day.
Stretch. Yoga and other mindful exercise are a fantastic way to improve your mood and get the blood flowing. They also helps you become mindful and focused, as they pull you into the present moment. Instead of worrying about tomorrow or regretting yesterday, you’re in the now and as a result, you can feel calm, in control, and centered.
Dance and play. Adults often forget how to play. Focusing on life’s responsibilities they forget about joy and laughter. Find an activity that you love, that makes you laugh or brings joy. Consider dance, martial arts, jumping rope or even riding your bicycle. You might even want to take walk in the snow or build a snowman1
Run or jog. Running is a fantastic calorie burner and it’s great for improving your fitness. Almost anyone can do it. And it doesn’t have to be about performance, speed and distance. You can simply embrace the sport as a fitness jogger. If you’re new to running, combine it with periods of walking. The goal is to help boost your mental and physical health.
Swim. One of the reasons we can become down during the winter is because it’s perpetually cold and gray. Join a swim club or find a gym with a pool. The warm water and the bright lights will help you feel better. If swimming laps isn’t your thing, join a water aerobics or Zumba class. It’s great fun to laugh and boost your fitness at the same time.
Sometimes a person just needs a little extra help to beat the winter blues. Simply changing your environment and brightening your home can help. Make your home a place that makes you smile. Surround yourself with color and cheer. Think about the activities you did as a child. What made you feel good? Get outside and have a snowball fight. Go sledding. Climb a tree. Get in the kitchen and try a new recipe.
And remember, you’re not alone in this!