8 Ways to Bust the Winter Blahs

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/18/2012 12:00 PM   :  13 comments   :  9,372 Views

For many people, cold weather and a lack of sunshine can bring on a mild depression known as the ''winter blues.'' People that experience the ''winter blues'' will generally lack motivation and energy. Others may even develop a clinical depression in the form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). 
 
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is ''a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you're like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.'' Those that experience SAD may produce too much melatonin, which is a hormone that helps to regulate sleep and body temperature. Producing too much melatonin disrupts the body's internal clock and may then cause depression, as seen with SAD sufferers.
 
Some of the signs of SAD may include the following:
 
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed mood
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Cravings for sweet and starchy foods
  • Oversleeping
 
If you have any symptoms of SAD, there are ways to help prevent them from continuing or getting worse. Here are some tips to help you prevent and combat the ''winter blues.'' (Of course, if you are experiencing any form of depression, we would also advise you to speak with your doctor.)
 
Try light therapy. Getting as much light as possible will instantly help boost your mood. Get outside during daylight hours as often as you can, open up your shades, use ''full spectrum'' light bulbs, invest in a specialty light box designed for SAD, and turn on the lights in your house as soon as you can in the morning. Even artificial light helps!
 
Laugh! This may seem like a simple, yet difficult thing to do, especially if you are feeling depressed. However, the more you practice, the easier it gets! Watch a funny movie, see a comedy show, read an uplifting book, just act silly, or try anything else that never fails to get you chuckling.
 
Be social. Go out with your friends and do something fun! A lot of times, people with SAD may feel withdrawn, but push yourself to get out there, even if it is for a short time. This can make a huge difference, especially if you surround yourself with people that you enjoy being around.
 
Brighten up your house. Colors can affect our moods, so it may be time to update the colors in your house (even just one room). Try finding some inexpensive bright artwork to hang up on the walls, adding a new paint color, or perking up your living room with some colorful flowers. Giving at least one room in your house an updated look and feel can help improve your mood.
 
Wear brighter colors. You don't generally find people wearing bright colors during the winter months, but that doesn't mean you can't! Just like updating the colors in your house, updating the colors that you wear can make a difference, too. Instead of wearing dark colors, try wearing something that is brighter to help lift your mood.
 
Listen to upbeat music. Music can really set the mood for many people. My mood tends to mirror the music that I listen to. Just like upbeat music helps you get through your workout, happy music can help put you in a better mindset. Put on some tunes, let your hair down and boost your mood with some fun music!
 
Call a friend or family member. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk it out, so pick up the phone and talk with someone you trust (or meet them in person). It will be good for both of you talk and bond, so you're both sure to benefit from talking and listening to one another.
 
If you can, plan a vacation to a warm and sunny place. After living in the Midwest for a while, I have gotten used to the fact that a lot of people only live here part of the year. Many of them will plan to take vacations (or take a seasonal job) in Florida where it is nice and sunny. But if you live in a colder climate year-round like I do, save up for a vacation--even if it is for a few days--to a warm and sunny place to give you a break from the cold and help you soak in some natural light and vitamin D.
 
Click here for more ideas on how to combat the seasonal blahs.
  
 
 
 
Do you get the ''winter blues'' or have SAD? If so, what are your tips for cheering up in the colder months?


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Comments

  • 13
    Jan - March are the worst for me! - 12/20/2012   3:51:32 PM
  • 12
    I have never been diagnosed with SAD, but I suffer from all of these symptoms every year. The worst months being December through March. I previously lived in Florida and never had any problems, but now I live in Indiana. I find exercise is the best way to deal with it. I also try to get outside as much as possible, but I'm not a fan of cold weather. I have in the past used tanning beds, but of course these are not the best option for your health. I have also noticed my work hours are a factor too, I now work 2nd shift and it works well for me because I have more hours of daylight to enjoy. I will try some of the other ideas in this blog too. - 12/20/2012   10:11:48 AM
  • 11
    I find it unrealistic to add "Be social' & "Call a friend" . When you are in the midst of SAD, the last thing you want is to have to be social. For an introvert with SAD, that is piling on guilt to say you must be social - 12/19/2012   2:23:00 PM
  • 10
    Seasonal Affective Disorder actually only got named and publicized in the late 1980s, so that may be one of the reasons it sounds "new," too (obviously it existed before then, but I don't think it was named). - 12/19/2012   10:51:54 AM
  • 9
    To the poster from Canada one reason you may not have heard about it is that you grew up in that environment and were used to it. I grew up several degrees of latitude farther south than I currently live and I suffer from the end of October until March. I don't think it is just being farther north but that my area (Pittsburgh, PA ) has so few sunny days year round that the short cloudy days of winter are just totally depressing for me. - 12/19/2012   9:51:56 AM
  • 8
    These are good reminders. I'm going to have to incorporate some of these as a habit this season. Every year gets worse for me. So tired of living in the snow belt with clouds every day. - 12/19/2012   9:32:33 AM
  • MRE1956
    7
    I'm dealing with all of these symptoms now, but I tend to blame those on *unemployment*, which hits so many folks throughout the year...... - 12/19/2012   5:38:55 AM
  • 6
    I find that getting outside for at least a little while every day, especially for some physical activity, makes a huge difference. - 12/18/2012   10:43:52 PM
  • 5
    I really don't understand why all the fuss. I grew up in Canada and nobody ever talked about anything remotely like this when I was a kid. I try to go outside especially if its clear out. - 12/18/2012   9:53:39 PM
  • 4
    I have battled that in the past but it seems better now. Depression is no fun. I like the ideas in this article. - 12/18/2012   8:57:25 PM
  • 3
    Yes, I struggle with this. -- I was surprised that exercise / movement was not on the above list of ideas to try / do. I find that regular, planned exercise does help me get from day to day. - 12/18/2012   6:35:34 PM
  • 2
    I do not have SAD, but I am going through chemo and sometimes I get a little depressed because of the fatigue; I think some of these tips will help me with that. If I am having a bad day, even getting out for just an hour to have lunch with a friend boosts my spirits and gets me feeling better. - 12/18/2012   4:50:02 PM
  • SEBASTIANALADY
    1
    I just got a hanging lamp for one room in my home that got quite dark, even in early afternoon. It has made a big improvement. - 12/18/2012   2:40:47 PM

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