A lot of people experience the winter blues around this time of the year. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to fight the winter blues and keep yourself in good spirits until spring finally comes along.
What Are Winter Blues?
Winter is often associated with the holidays, so many look forward to it. The winter season, though, also brings some negative feelings, especially when the holidays have passed and the Christmas cheer has faded. In fact, many people get a bad case of the winter blues after the holiday spirit has died down.
“Winter blues” is a term used to describe the feeling of sadness that usually comes during the eponymous season. It usually comes as a result of shorter days during winter, leading to reduced sunlight. Winter blues symptoms include feeling down, lethargy, irritability, and sleep problems.
Winter Blues vs SAD: What’s the Difference?
While some may use “winter blues” and “seasonal affective disorder” interchangeably, they are two different terms.
Winter blues is a more general term to describe the feeling of sadness during the winter season. It is not a medical diagnosis. Furthermore, many people experience the winter blues, which is quite common. It is also a mild condition, as it typically clears up on its own in a short period.
In contrast, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression disorder or seasonal depression, is a clinical diagnosis that is usually tied to shorter days during fall and winter. It significantly affects daily functioning over a long period. SAD is a serious condition as it is a type of depression. People with SAD tend to have a gloomy outlook and feel worthless or hopeless.
A defining characteristic of SAD is that it conforms to a pattern. It comes around yearly as the seasons change, only disappearing in the spring and summer seasons.
In the United States, roughly 5 percent of adults experience SAD. Because SAD is directly related to reduced daylight, it is more common in the northern parts of the country. The northern states usually experience longer winter days.
How to Deal With Winter Blues Disorder
The winter blues can be tough but not unbeatable. Here are the best ways you can cope with the winter blues and get you back in a good mood.
1. Get More Exercise
Exercise has been shown to help lift your spirit. In fact, even just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can work wonders on your mood. Go out for a morning jog, learn a new dance at home, or get a gym membership. All of these things can help warm you up during winter and relieve your depressive mood.
2. Stick to a Wake-and-Sleep Routine
If you want to learn how to deal with shorter days in the winter, stick to a sleep schedule. Wake up and go to bed simultaneously every day, even on weekends. You may feel tempted to sleep in, especially when mornings are dark and cozy, but this will only add to your lethargy.
You should also develop a relaxing bedtime routine that will help wind you down before sleeping. Get at least 7 hours of sleep and create a soothing and comfortable bedroom.
3. Have a Party
Who says you can’t have a party even after the holidays are over? Throw a bash and invite all of your friends or family. If you’re on a budget or simply want something more intimate, just have a few people over. You can have dinner, watch a movie, or play board games.
A party or event will give you something to look forward to, effectively lifting your mood. Of course, make sure you don’t stress yourself out in the process. Stress can make the winter blues worse.
4. Be Productive (But Not Stressed)
You might have a strong urge to just lay in bed all day, but this won’t help your mood at all. Instead, plan activities you can do throughout the day.
Get those chores done to give yourself a sense of accomplishment and productivity. Book a spa day or cook a meal at home. Make a cup of hot cocoa to enjoy by the fireplace. Giving yourself something to do can help alleviate your winter blues.
Again, don’t overwhelm yourself with a long to-do list. Being productive and active is good, but not to the point that you’re stressing yourself out. It’s all about finding the right balance.
5. Go on a Mini Vacation
If you have the time and budget for it, why not plan a vacation for yourself? You can go on that getaway cruise or head to that tropical destination you’ve been dreaming about for years. Alternatively, you can plan a mini vacation or even a staycation. Going somewhere new or simply getting out of the house can do wonders for your mood.
6. Get Some Light
It’s difficult to learn how to adjust to shorter, darker days, but a good way to do it is to get some light. Make sure you include some time outdoors into your daily routine. If that means getting up a bit earlier than you’re used to, then so be it.
A big reason why people feel down and lethargic in wintertime is because there’s not enough sunlight during the day. You can fix that by adjusting your schedule to sneak some natural sunshine in. Sunlight is not only a good source of vitamin D but can also increase your serotonin levels.
7. Stay Warm
The cold winter weather can also have negative effects on your mood. Therefore, it is important to stay warm to remain in good spirits. You can do this by bundling up, spending some time in front of your fireplace, drinking a cup of hot cocoa, and eating warm food. Make sure your heating system is also working properly so you can keep your home between 64°F and 70°F.
8. Eat a Healthy Diet
People tend to overeat when they’re in a bad mood, so combat that by eating healthily. A healthy diet will not only make you feel happier but also boost your energy levels. Make sure to eat a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some tasty treats every once in a while.
9. Try a New Hobby
You won’t believe the magic that a new activity or hobby can have on your mood. When you try something new, your mind and body remain active. Pique your interest with activities such as card games, knitting, singing, dancing, or writing. Make sure it’s something you genuinely want to try so that you can pour your heart into it.
Socializing is good for your mental health, so it’s a great way to keep the winter blues away. Do your best to stay in contact with friends and family. Plan social gatherings and accept invitations to other people’s events. Even online communication can have a positive impact on your mood.
11. Turn to Entertainment
When people feel down, many turn to their favorite movies or television shows to boost their spirits. You can help fight the winter blues by watching your go-to flicks or comforting shows. Comedies are a particularly good choice, as laughter has been shown to counter depressive symptoms.
The Bottom Line
To some people, the winter season can be a source of joy and happiness. To others, though, it brings the winter blues. If you ever find yourself battling with the winter blues, use the ways above to help you get over the hurdle. Of course, you also shouldn’t be afraid to seek professional help.
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