Oh, winter blues.
The Northern Hemisphere is entering the winter season. That means dark mornings, dark evenings, and shorter, gloomy days. With this season come the winter blues, a common seasonal condition. The most common effects people experience include feeling more down than usual, sad, and less energized. Seasonal Affective Disorder is another name for this common mood change.
Up to 20 percent of Americans experience seasonal mood changes and up to 9 percent of people in the United States suffer from seasonal depression. That is a more severe condition than winter blues and is characterized by feelings of hopelessness and despair, fatigue, problems sleeping and concentrating, and changes in appetite. Not fun at all!
If the winter blues and seasonal depression are truly just seasonal and no signs of more serious conditions, there is hope for all those experiencing the symptoms. With the help of just a few simple exercises, people can lessen their symptoms and make themselves feel a little better. Here are just a few options to try.
- Get Flowers for Yourself and Loved Ones
If it feels too long until springtime, bring some spring to your home yourself. Get some flowers from your favorite local florist. It’s been psychologically proven that having flowers in front of you can help you to distress and significantly improve your mood. A lot of studies show how great flowers are for your mental health. They can easily erase all stressful memories of the week you’ve just had, they have an unbelievable power to make you smile and feel good.
- Move: Activity Helps Both Physical and Mental Wellness
Studies have shown that physical activity helps to fight and prevent depression and bad moods in general. It gets your blood pumping through your body and your brain releases feel-good chemicals. There are so many varieties of ways to get exercise. Running, riding a bike, and working out at the gym or at home. YouTube is a great resource with many guided exercise channels. Yoga is a great option, for example. In addition to providing physical activity, it teaches body-mind connection that has been proven to release stress.
- Take Time to Rest and Enjoy Your Favorite Activities
Warm yourself up with a mug of hot tea, cocoa, or coffee, whichever you prefer. Enjoy some feel-good movies, perhaps a comedy or two, something to make you laugh with all heart. Experts believe that laughter actually stimulates processes in your brain that counter depressive symptoms. Find an activity that you enjoy, be it painting, drawing, or cooking, and do more of it when you feel sad.
- Enjoy Social Life to Fight Seasonal Depression
Don’t postpone date nights and nights out with your friends only because it’s raining outside, or snowing, or just too cold. We have only one life, and it is too short to stay home and wait for better days. Moreover, there are so many things to do in the wintertime. Winter sports, such as Ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and winter hiking are all great examples.
- Go Outside Even If It’s Cold
“Baby, it’s cold outside!”
Yes, it is, but that doesn’t mean you should hermit crab in your house until spring. Go outside to get some fresh air, even if it is just for a short walk. Studies show that people with Seasonal Affective Disorder feel better after exposure to light.
Additionally, replacing lost sunlight with bright artificial light improves mood. Alfred Lewy, MD, a Seasonal Affective Disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says it’s not only a matter of getting light but also getting it at the right time. “The most important time to get the light is in the morning,” he says. There are nice options for indoor lights such as candlelight or Christmas light that can help even more as they can bring about a lighter, more festive mood. People also consider adding a fireplace to their home to add coziness and a touch of romance.