As the weather changes and temperatures drop, sometimes our moods follow suit. Some people experience increased sadness and sluggishness during the fall and winter months. Winter blues, for some is a manageable and temporary state of sadness and malaise. For others, the “blues” may be more serious and result in seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. In this case, a person experiencing winter depression for two or more consecutive years, would need to seek the help of a mental health professional.
People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression, may have low energy, feel sad, irritable, unmotivated, and less interested in normal activities. These feelings are generally more prevalent around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day and subside as spring approaches. There is no known reason for this phenomenon, but several theories center around the lack of daylight during the winter season.
Here are some tips that may help boost your mood and combat “winter blues”:
- Eat a well-balanced diet. You may be tempted to eat more “comfort” foods like sugars and carbohydrates, but try to eat more fruits, vegetables and proteins. There is scientific evidence that eating healthy carbohydrates and other serotonin boosting foods may positively impact a person’s mood.
- Stay active. I know. I know. Exercise is the last thing you want to do when you are in a slump, but you and I both know that exercise is key for a healthy mind and body. Find some activity, any activity, you enjoy that will get you moving and your heart pumping.
- Make sure your home and work space is well–lit. Poor lighting can contribute to your gloomy mood. There is even some research that suggests that sitting near a light box, which simulates a bright, sunny day will lower melatonin levels and, subsequently, improve your mood.
- Meditate. For many people, our mental conversations are negative in nature. It is difficult to reign in those negative thoughts and reframe them. Meditation will help you gain control of your thoughts and relieve stress. There are many books and articles written about the benefits of meditation. Read some of the literature and try it. You may be surprised at the results you see.
- Plan a vacation. Get away to someplace sunny. A change of scenery could make a world of difference in changing your mood.
If you’ve tried these tips and other strategies to alleviate your winter blues with no result, it may be time to seek the help of a mental health professional. There are experienced counselors at Amy Wine Counseling Center who can help you overcome your seasonal depression. Call us at 832-421-8714 or email for an appointment.