Well-Being//

A Guide to Not Being Miserable During the Winter Months

You don't need to have depression or seasonal affective disorder to feel down during the colder months.

By Tamonwan apaikawee/Shutterstock
By Tamonwan apaikawee/Shutterstock

Even if you don’t have seasonal affective disorder or another kind of depression, it’s absolutely possible for you to feel the winter blues. Unless you’re one of those people who enjoys the cold and shorter days, you may have to take some precautions to make sure you don’t slip into a dark place…and I’m not just talking about the lack of daylight hours!

As the winter barrels ahead, use it as an opportunity to really get in tune with your feelings. Take note of your emotions and evaluate if the holiday season and the colder weather have been affecting you negatively. If they have been impacting you, don’t worry. There’s a bunch of things you can do to cheer up, even just a bit.

Consider Light Therapy

Some researchers believe that SAD can be caused by the lack of sunlight during winter, which can throw off your body’s clock. There are special types of lamps, ones for your home, that produce something similar to sunlight. You can even bring it with you into your dark, dismal office and keep it at your desk! Who cares what people think? Your happiness comes first! There are a bunch of models and types to choose from, but talk to your doctor first.

Make Plans to Look Forward To

Having something exciting on the horizon to look forward to is a great way to boost your spirit. You can plan something as small as a lunch with your friend or as big as going on a vacation (more on that later). Even on the gloomiest days, you can think about the exciting things to come to motivate you to get through the day. They can be solo activities or group activities, as long as they excite your soul.

Continue to Exercise

It’s no secret that there is a link between the amount of time someone spends exercising and their mood. If you’re someone who works out outdoors, your routine can be completely thrown off when the temperature drops — that can take a toll on your mood. Going for a run out in 30 degree weather? Probably not so pleasant. Find an indoor exercise that’s new and fun for you instead of just running on the treadmill (unless you genuinely love going on the treadmill). There are endless group class options or one-on-one training sessions in various physical activities like kickboxing, pilates, yoga, or indoor cycling.

Go On A Vacation

Missing the sunshine? Go chase it. Head somewhere hot and sunny to get your vitamin D fix and refuel. Even after the trip is over, the benefits will last because you’ll have memories to look back on, reminisce about, and that make you smile. Before you totally rule this one out, remember that nowadays, it doesn’t even have to be so expensive to travel. With budget airlines, crazy airline sales, and hostels, there are many options that can make for a wallet-friendly trip.

Surround Yourself With Loved Ones

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, it’s important to avoid isolating yourself, even though you may just feel like locking yourself up alone in your bedroom. Family and friends can raise your spirits or act as a shoulder to cry on. If you really don’t feel like going out, try calling or Skyping somebody for more of a face-to-face experience than texting or calling provides.

Stock Up on Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vitamin that the sun provides us with. When we aren’t exposed to as much sunlight, there are other ways that we can get the vitamin, via supplements or foods that are rich in vitamin D, such as beef, egg yolks, or wild-caught fish. Oh, and definitely stay away from anyone’s advice to get vitamin D from a tanning bed. This is a myth!

Reach Out To A Therapist

If you can’t seem to snap out of your winter sadness after following these tips, consider asking for help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of! Some of us need an extra push. A therapist can help move your mood in the right direction or change negative thinking patterns, identify underlying problems, and provide great support.

When you think about it, winter’s only one fourth of the year — easy peasy! You don’t have to surrender to the season and just accept that you’re going to be miserable for a couple of months. Instead, resist and fight it! Once you learn how to cope with the change of moods that comes with the changing of seasons, you’ll be more prepared each and every year. Bring it on, winter.

Originally published on Talkspace.

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