The winter blues are frightfully common. It’s estimated that about 10 to 20 percent of the population experiences some milder form of Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depressive disorder that occurs, or worsens, on a seasonal basis, most often during the dark days of winter. A smaller but still significant population may become debilitated by it. Since the turn of the seasons is unstoppable, finding ways to cope with depression in the winter is vital for good mental health.
Check out these four ways to help ease depressive symptoms during the cold season.
Embrace The Season’s Sporty Offerings
Exercise is a great way to make yourself feel better. It releases natural endorphins into your bloodstream which helps elevate your mood. Exercise also draws your attention away from worries by focusing your mind on the physical activity. Take up cross-country skiing, snowboarding, or ice-fishing. Or simply spend more time sledding, ice skating on a local pond, or hiking through snowy woods with friends.
Get Some Sun
Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a few weeks in Florida? Not everyone can afford to take the time off, but if you have some vacation days and a little extra cash, consider scheduling sunny vacations during the deepest part of the winter, when you know you’ll need the pick-me-up.
A more affordable alternative to a sun-filled vacation is investing in a light therapy lamp. Basking in this artificial sunlight for a few minutes each day is thought to positively affect your brain’s mood chemicals and make you feel, and sleep, better.
Don’t Forget The Vitamin D
Our body makes vitamin D only when exposed to the sun. The lack of sun means a lack of vitamin D, which has been correlated scientifically with many different kinds of depression. You can take vitamin D in pill, liquid gel, or gummy form to make sure you’ve reached a healthy dose of about 5000 IU per day. You may also want to shift your diet to include more vitamin-D-rich fish like sardines, salmon, and swordfish.
Try Something New
The doldrums of winter are a great time to get busy with a new and exciting project, take a class at the local community college, or learn how to knit, paint, or play the piano. Jolting our brain into learning a new skill rewires it, gives it focus, and fights the sometimes overwhelming mood changes and emotions that are associated with depression.
Coping with the winter blues takes some time, planning and energy. But if you find yourself overwhelmed during the winter, know that you’re not alone. Never hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional, who can help you get the treatment you need and deserve.