20 Tips on How to Deal with Winter Blues

Originally posted on Staying Strong 24/7

Winter blues is defined by “a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness associated with experiencing the cold and darkness of winter.” [1] While the most known cause for winter blues is lack of daylight, there can be other factors that might be making you feel depressed. The lack of sunlight might not even be the main cause.

The article Surprising Causes of Winter Depression lists the following factors that may be contributing to or causing your winter blues:

  • You’re not moving enough
  • You’re worried about money
  • You’re overwhelmed with family obligations
  • You’re not eating right
  • You feel left out
  • You’re drinking too much
  • You’re nostalgic
  • You’re overscheduled
  • You’re turning into a hermit
  • Your expectations are unrealistic[2]

The good news is that you can control most of these.

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Below are 20 ways one can deal with winter blues:

1. Make your house brighter or get a lightbox. Studies show that light, or lack thereof, can affect your mood.

2. Shift your thoughts. The holidays can bring some negative thoughts and feelings. I’m not going to tell you to change them because, from experience, that’s hard. But simply redirect your thoughts and focus on something else. For example, if you feel lonely because you’re single and don’t have a cuddle buddy, focus on the positive things about being single (trust me, there’s a lot) and the people who do love you. Learn how to be okay with being alone.

3. Don’t put pressure on yourself.

4. Snuggle up to someone or a warm blanket.

5. Watch comedy or Christmas movies and listen to upbeat music.

6. Start Christmas shopping early. This will help balance your budget. This will also limit pressure and stress later on.

7. Spend time with the people who matter most to you. This will make you feel less alone and make the holidays more fun for you. “Socializing is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues.”[3]

8. Sleep properly. Don’t sleep too much or too little.

9. Take vitamin D supplements. “Vitamin D levels can become depleted without enough sunshine, and this is especially true during the winter months when we stay inside more and the sun is not as intense.”[4] Research (and personal experience) shows taking a vitamin D supplement can improve depression, especially in the winter.

10. Go out. Research shows “even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.”[5]

11. Eat comfort food, but also healthy. I enjoy my chocolate, junk food, and unhealthy meals when I’m feeling down. Many people do and that’s okay as long as you’re not binging, and you eat healthy too.

12. Decorate your house. Christmas lights make me feel happy and calm.

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13. Stick to a routine. You may be tempted to fall out of your normal routine but try not to.

14. Treat yourself to something.

15. Volunteer. Helping out others can make you feel good.

16. Take up a winter activity.

17. Exercise. Even though you may not feel like it, it’s good to exercise a little bit per day, even if it’s just going for a walk. It releases endorphins in our brain, which makes us feel good.

18. Set goals. Setting goals motivates me and keeps me on track.

19. Try to limit or not to do things that trigger you. Especially during the holidays, certain things can be considered triggers for people. Food may be triggering for people with an eating disorder, for example. Alcohol can be triggering for someone recovering from addiction. Being around family can be hard for someone who lost a family member or has family issues. Even something as simple as a Christmas movie or song can trigger some negative thoughts and memories. Make sure you are comfortable in the environment you’re in. If you start to feel uneasy, it’s okay to just get up and walk away. You don’t owe anyone any explanation.

20. Enjoy yourself and relax. Do whatever makes you happy, healthy and comfortable. Spend time with the people you love and who make you happy.


References:

[1] Definition of winter blues. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/winter-blues

[2] Garrard, C. (n.d.). Surprising Causes of Winter Depression. Health. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20752714,00.html

[3] Beating the winter blues. (2015). National Health Service. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/dealing-with-winter-blues-sad.aspx

[4] Archer, D. (2013). Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201307/vitamin-d-deficiency-and-depression

[5] Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Lifestyle and home remedies. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20021047


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Jessica Victoria, 22, is a mental health advocate and freelancer from Ontario, Canada. She is familiar with the struggles of depression, anxiety disorders, and borderline personality traits, as she tackles them head-on in her daily life. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


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