Last updated on January 8, 2019 at 04:00 pm
Winter isn’t my favorite season but I can respect it. The snow can be pretty and nothing beats warming up by a fire, but one thing I just can’t handle when winter rolls around is the winter blues. I’m like a sunshine vampire; I feed off sunlight. So when daylight diminishes, I start to feel really tired and irritable. It just isn’t pretty, and it can be hard to beat the winter blues on your own.
If I could hibernate from October to April, I absolutely would. And I’m not alone. Approximately 14 percent of the adult population in the United States suffers from the winter blues. Another seven percent suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
But what are the winter blues exactly? Isn’t it the same thing as seasonal affective disorder? Yes and no. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes with the seasons. The winter blues is also a seasonal depression but the symptoms are milder than those of SAD. Symptoms of SAD include irritability, low energy, oversleeping, weight gain, appetite changes, hypersensitivity to rejection, problems getting along with other people and experiencing a feeling of heavy arms and legs.
If you or someone you know suffers from the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, here are some ways to kick those blues to the curb:
- Exercise. I know, I know. This time of year most of us only want to curl up on the couch or in bed in fluffy jammies eating comfort foods. I hear you because as I write that’s exactly what I want to do. But exercise will release endorphins and help elevate your mood. The internet is chock full of free exercise videos so find what works best for you.
- Talk it out. Reach out to friends and family and catch up. When we start to feel bummed out by the cold and dark we tend to isolate ourselves which only leads to feeling even more bummed out.
- Sleep. This is my favorite one. Sleep is often the first thing to get cut when we get busy, or distracted, or procrastinate…do you see where I’m going with this? Getting enough sleep should be a top priority. Make it so.
- Go outside. I know it’s cold outside but fresh air and sunshine will improve your mood. If the weather outside is too frightful, try sitting by a window to catch some rays.
- Stay warm. No, this doesn’t cancel out number four. Enjoy hot meals and hot nonalcoholic beverages often and pile on the layers. Try to keep your home’s thermostat up slightly. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference the added warmth can make.
- Eat healthy foods. I try to load up on greens when the winter doldrums hit. Not only does eating healthy help keep colds and viruses at bay, the nutrients also provide energy. Plus, leafy greens get their mojo from the sun so really when you think about it, getting your greens on is like eating the sun!
- Focus on resolutions. Don’t let those New Year’s resolutions fade away. Create a plan, set milestones and celebrate small victories. This way you’ll keep your mind off the springtime countdown, and celebrating milestones and small wins can put a little pep in your step. Go get’em, tiger.
- Treat yourself. Having something to look forward to can really keep you going even when the sun sets at four pm. Consider a massage, facial or a dinner out. It’s your treat so make it a good one!
- Take a whiff. Some of my friends swear by aromatherapy when they’re feeling low. Scents like lavender, bergamot, jasmine and citrus are said to help with seasonal depression. Try adding some to a hot bath or splurge for an aromatherapy diffuser or lamp.
- Bring in the professionals. All kidding aside, it’s normal to feel down some days but if you’re bummed out for days at a time and you can’t find the motivation to do the things you usually enjoy, call your doctor.
Here at Plymouth Rock Assurance, we’re beating the winter blues by eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and staying focused on our resolutions. What are some ways that you beat the winter blues? Tell us in the comments below!