With the holidays behind us and decorations packed away, there can be an unpleasant shift this time of year. For some, moods can drop as quickly as the temperature, leaving the dreaded days of winter to sing the sad, sad song of blues.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that over 10 Million American struggle with each year. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Library, “Less sunlight and shorter days are thought to be linked to a chemical change in the brain and may be part of the cause.” Additionally, The American Psychiatric Association has warned that women are four times more common to have seasonal depression than men.
With such staggering numbers, what’s a girl to do? The days will grow darker and the cold will set in, but that doesn’t mean you have to! Many people take matters into their own hands by turning darkness into light by using a seasonal affective disorder lamp for instance. Help make this season yours by following these five ways to beat winter blues.
The Great Outdoors
Light, bright, sunshine— it’s an important part of keeping us happy. Head into nature, I promise it will do you some good. Studies have shown that vitamin D has an anti-depressant effect. And the light exposure lifts moods via other brain pathways even if in the winter the vitamin D boost is modest.
While it may be cold outside, winter offers a fresh and crisp perspective for the great outdoors. Depending on your location, snow can help you have a ball. From a full day of skiing to snowshoeing casually through the woods, there are plenty of outdoor options to choose from. Taking a brisk winter evening walk may even give you a great incentive to come home to a cozy cocktail by the fire.
Try a Seasonal Affective Disorder Lamp
If weather or other factors prohibit you from spending more time in natural light, light therapy through the use of a seasonal affective disorder lamp can be an alternative solution to get you through. The American Psychiatric Association shares that “Light therapy involves sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits very bright light (and filters out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays). It usually requires 20 minutes or more a day, typically first thing in the morning, during the winter. Most people see some improvements after using a seasonal affective disorder lamp within one or two weeks of beginning treatment. To maintain the benefits and prevent relapse, treatment is usually continued through the winter. Because of the anticipated return of symptoms in late fall, some people may begin light therapy in early fall to prevent symptoms.”
During the winter, the sun goes down so early each night. By setting extra lights around the home such as candles, tea lights, or twinkling lights, this can be a simple way to add a bit of comfort to the day. Hygge is a Danish lifestyle trend that helps make the winter months bearable. This concept encourages feelings of coziness and in turn well-being by enjoying simple things.
With a new year and new season it is a perfect time to create a new space or simply refresh. Even small changes can have a big impact. While settling into some of your Netflix faves, you may want to check out the hottest new show cleaning up on the charts. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo aims to help American families declutter their homes and be thankful for both what they will keep and what they will let go.
If you are up for a more decorative challenge, try to transform a space. Rearrange furniture or paint your favorite color on a wall. Making big or small shifts in the spaces around you can transform the way you feel inside. Be creative. Be simple. Lead with intention. Create spaces that light you within and shine it on others.
One of the simplest ways to energize your body is with food. Real, whole, simple food. Take pleasure in preparing simple meals. Find ways to slow down and eat them.
Winter provides a perfect backdrop for meals meant to be shared. Try new recipes. Find time to share meals with friends and family. Soups and stews will warm you to the core and make you glad you took the time to make them. One fun way to start is to create a Pinterest board. Invite friends and family to join. Swap recipes, host family dinner. (Or a game night, too!) The more, the merrier!
At the very least, drink water. Your brain is strongly influenced by hydration, as is your immune system. Drink water often and ‘cheers’ your way to better health.
Surrounding yourself with those who make you feel good is good. It makes sense, doesn’t it! Positive social engagement is associated with a stronger immune system and a healthy state of mind. Sharing stories and laughs, offering support or depending on others—your well-being will thank you for it. Host a small gathering. Meet up for coffee. Make time to call a friend that you haven’t spoken to in months.
Remember, you don’t have to be stormy just because the weather is! There are simple and practical tools you can use to improve your mood each day. Set your winter vibes in motion and make this season bright!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 5 Winter Date Night Ideas.
Photo Credit: twenty20