Long, grey days got you down? You’re not alone. Many people tend to get the winter blues, and it’s largely related to the decreased levels of sunlight during these months. Those battling the winter blues (technically called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD) often have a desire to oversleep, a craving for carbs, along with a feeling of apathy or low grade sadness. If that’s you, here are some things you can consider trying.
- Get outside. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the daylight hours you do have, and get outdoors and soak in the natural light whenever you can.
- Light therapy. Many people find light therapy to be extremely helpful in boosting their mood. Make sure you get a full spectrum light that puts out at least 10,000 lux, designed for use in preventing SAD. For best success, use the light for 30 minutes each day, shortly after waking up in the morning.
- Consistent sleep habits. Do your best to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Decrease your exposure to bright light in the evenings, and avoid use of electronic devices in the hour before you go to bed. Consider a dawn simulator to help you wake up in the morning rather than an alarm clock.
- Stay active. You don’t have to become a Crossfit junkie, but do something to get moving, even if it’s just taking a walk. Yoga is another great option. Aim for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.
- Make connections. When you’re feeling down, it’s tempting to just stay home alone. But you’re better off making yourself get out and spend some time with friends and family. Try to make plans to get together with someone at least once a week.
- Find a hobby. Take a class, find a DIY project to work on, or explore a new area of interest. This can give you something to look forward to, and provide some positive brain stimulation.
- Aromatherapy. Essential oils are a great way to give your mood a boost. Try uplifting scents like lemon, orange, or bergamot – or energizing scents like peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus.
- Nourish your body. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Make sure to eat foods abundant in vitamin D (like salmon, eggs, and mushrooms) as well as those rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like fish, chia seeds, and flax seeds). Consider nutritional supplements to help in those areas where your diet is lacking.
While the best results are usually found by beginning preventative measures in the fall, it’s never too late to start. Be aware that it may take time to see changes, so be patient and consistent. If the down feelings persist, or reach a place where they’re keeping you from functioning normally, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help.