Staying Sunny Through the Winter Doldrums

When the days start getting shorter, many people start to feel symptoms of the winter blues. Stories about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) pop up at the beginning of every winter season when the temperatures drop and the days shrink. But even when the days start getting longer and the end of winter is in sight, people are still dealing with some symptoms that may be disrupting their daily lives. If you’re feeling the winter blues this Monday, here is some advice to take charge of the rest of the season!

First and foremost: the winter blues are not just in your head. If they are in your head, they are in the heads of many other people who report feeling symptoms of depression during the winter. The American Psychiatric Association says that about five percent of adults may be affected by SAD every year. Among the symptoms are fatigue, increased sadness, loss of interest in favorite activities, and restlessness. But even while SAD is a medically-recognized mental health condition, there are plenty of ways to pick yourself up and head happily into spring.

Even if you don’t have the means to travel to a dream destination in the tropics, there are so many things to appreciate that only winter brings! Take a few moments to be mindful of the cozy, joyful parts of winter – the way hot foods and drinks feel and taste, cuddling up by a roaring fireplace, and wearing soft, warm sweaters. There are parts of the winter to savor before the spring and summer show up. Being mindful will help ease some of the feelings of irritability and stress you may be experiencing and help you refresh your brain in a matter of minutes. Being grateful can also help you move into a more positive state of mind.

Once you’ve shifted your thinking into a more positive direction, start planning a few activities that will get you moving. Aerobic exercise is not just beneficial for your physical health – it’s been proven to significantly improve symptoms of the blues. Take a brisk walk if you’re just starting out or add a few more minutes to your routine if you’re exercising already. Try to push yourself just a little further to give yourself a goal to work towards. You can also search the internet for fun activities you can do outside the house. Don’t shy away from outdoor activities if the temperature isn’t too cold and the sun is out – just remember to wear sunblock.

February can be a rough month for people who experience the winter blues, but it’s completely possible to feel better this Monday. If you feel like you’re in a winter rut, use every Monday this season to break free and incorporate a new routine that will put a spring in your step!