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Beat the Winter Blues

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Dr. Laura Tanzini
woman sitting on bed with head leaning on knees stressed from ptsd nightmare

With darker mornings, shorter days, and gray weather, it’s no wonder that so many people feel blue during the winter months. The winter blues are relatively common and can cause you to feel sad and less energized. Some who feel depressed during the winter may actually have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), though this must be diagnosed by a mental health professional. This is a form of major depression and can cause feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and more.

Though the winter blues are a milder version of SAD, you shouldn’t just ignore your symptoms. Read on below to learn a few ways you can beat seasonal sadness this winter.

Tips to Beat the Winter Blues

Winter can be a challenging season for many, with the shorter days and colder weather contributing to feelings of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and post-holiday blues. This section offers practical advice for those struggling with depression during this time, providing tips on how to beat the Winter blues. From soaking up sunlight and staying active to maintaining a healthy sleep routine and diet, these suggestions aim to uplift your spirits and improve your overall well-being during the winter months.

Enjoy Sunlight However You Can

Two of the primary causes of the winter blues are shorter days and worse weather. This means that your body is not able to get the sunshine and vitamin D that it needs to be healthy. During the winter, enjoy sunlight as much as you can. Go outside first thing in the morning for a 20-minute walk. Open the curtains and enjoy coffee by the window. You can also purchase a lightbox which is meant to simulate sunshine and can be just as effective as combating depression with antidepressant medications.

Get Moving

Another way to relieve your winter blues is by exercising. Research shows that getting at least 20 minutes of exercise four times a week can alleviate the symptoms of depression. Consider getting a gym membership so you can stay warm and exercise comfortably inside. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do, as long as you get up and get moving.

Maintain a Sleep Routine

Though it might be tempting to sleep in on those dark winter mornings, it is much better for your body to stick to a regular sleep routine. This means going to bed around the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Make sure you are getting at least seven solid hours of sleep every night. If you have difficulty falling asleep at night, create a soothing bedtime ritual, get rid of any noisy distractions, and ensure your sleep environment is dark, cool, and comfortable.

Eat Better

Believe it or not, the food you eat has an impact on your mood. Sugary candy and carbohydrates can offer temporary highs, but will ultimately lead to an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression. On the other hand, some foods, like chocolate, can improve your mood and provide relief from stress. Watch what you’re eating and stick with foods that make you feel good in the long term.

Give Yourself Something Manageable to Complete

According to one psychological theory, all people have an ingrained need to feel competent to progress emotionally, maintain integrity, and boost our well-being. By giving yourself a manageable and straightforward task to complete, you can give yourself a sense of accomplishment that will improve your mood overall. This can be anything from sweeping the floor to clearing out your inbox to cooking yourself a healthy meal.

Plan a Staycation

Usually, people become happier when they have something to look forward to. If Instagram posts of your friend’s vacations are getting you down, why not take a little staycation of your own? By planning a mini-vacay close to home, you can save some money and boost your mood, too. Take a weekend trip to a nearby tourist attraction or take a day to explore your own city like a tourist.

The New Years Blues

In addition to those who experience seasonal affective disorder and feeling the negative affects of Winter, the holidays, such as New Years, can also bring on feelings of depression among those who may not have loved ones to spend the holidays with.  

If you’ve been dealing with feelings of depression since the holidays, here are some suggestions on beating the New Year’s blues.

Address Financial Issues

If you think that your depression may be largely stemming from financial troubles—such as large credit card bills from Christmas shopping or an upcoming large tax bill—then the best way to cope with this is to take charge of your financial situation. While you may think that pushing it to the back of your mind will help you to feel less stressed, the trouble will always be there, lurking in your thoughts and dragging your mood down.

Instead, start working on addressing your financial troubles. Get on a budget, set up payment plans, and start organizing your finances. While this won’t make the financial issues vanish, the act of taking charge and making a plan can significantly improve your mood and help you to feel empowered.

Reconsider Your Resolutions

A large number of people use this time of year to reinvent themselves and try to improve themselves in some way. Of course, this is fantastic, and setting goals is important for personal growth. But if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or just generally low, you may want to look at your resolutions and see if they’re the cause of it. If you’ve set your goals too high or have simply set the wrong goals for yourself, you may be feeling depressed about your lack of progress towards them.

That’s not the point of resolutions! If your resolutions are making you feel worse about yourself, something’s wrong. Reconsider your goals. Adjust ones that need to be adjusted, or ditch them altogether if you need to. There’s no shame in dropping a resolution in the name of taking care of your mental health.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

In the winter, many people tend to shut themselves indoors to avoid the chill. This can cause feelings of isolation and depression in many. If you’ve been really isolated lately, and you think that may be the cause of your low mood, try to make plans to be around people.

That doesn’t have to mean going out to a party or being around a huge group. Visit family that lives nearby. Invite a friend or two over for a movie night. Take your laptop to a coffee shop to work instead of staying at home. A little more time around people can go a long way towards improving your mood.

See a Healthcare Professional

Sometimes, the winter blues can be more than just seasonal melancholy; they can often be a sign of something more serious. If you believe you are suffering from depression, reach out to a healthcare professional today. They can recommend the best treatment centers for depression and help you find a treatment plan that works for you. To learn more about how your healthcare provider or we can assist, contact us at Kinder in the Keys today.

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Author Bio

Dr. Laura Tanzini, DrPh, MA, MFT

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a highly educated and accomplished professional with a background in biology and psychology. She received a BS in Biology from UC Riverside, an MA in psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University.

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, and PTSD Clinician. She has worked in multiple medical hospitals, mental health institutions, and inpatient eating disorder clinics. Also, Dr. Tanzini has written scholarly papers and spoken on various topics related to nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development.