After what has been quite a wintery few days for a big part of the country, some people might be wondering how they will make it to Spring. For many people the typical feelings of winter blues are exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of the two can pack quite a wallop on some people. Hope and positive thinking may be your biggest allies right about now as we get into February.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), often referred to as the “winter blues” begins and remits the same time each year and occurs for two consecutive years. Unlike depression, symptoms are tied to a season. Some of the symptoms include low energy, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, and feeling depressed.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is highly treatable and even if it’s just tweaking the way you think about winter you’ll feel much better. So often, the way we think affects the way we feel and that profoundly impacts our moods. For example, do you think “I hate winter and will never make it through to spring?” Or do you think “Sure, winter sucks and is cold, but I know there’s an end in sight and there are things I can do to help make it easier?” The former is sure to keep you stuck and feeling lousy while the latter might help to ease some of the harshness of the winter.
Here are more tips to help get you through the winter:
1. Get moving.
Although it is challenging to get to the gym due to COVID-19 restrictions, do your best to exercise. There are countless apps and videos one can view and use right from the safe confides of their homes. Aerobic exercise in particular stimulates endorphins and can help you to feel better. To make up for the lack of social interaction and support you’d ordinarily have at the gym, gather some friends and form a virtual exercise group where you track your activity and share fresh ideas for exercising at home.
2. Get exposure to outdoor light.
Yes, even though it’s cold and there are precautions you need to take due to COVID, bundle up, get outside and walk for at least 10 minutes a day. Light enters the brain through the eyes and impacts serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that play a role in mood. So, instead of seeing cold as unbearable, focus on the sunshine and the benefits that come with it.
4. Get closer to the window.
If possible arrange your office desk (home or actual office) to be closer to the outside and to sunshine. This will provide natural light which will also help to enhance your mood.If this isn’t possible, consider a light therapy box. This is a device that creates an artificial light mimicking natural light.
5. Get social.
As with other mood disorders, surrounding yourself with understanding, supportive, and encouraging people can help lift your spirits. Find people whom you trust and lean on them virtually for support and plan to connect with them on a regular basis.
For more tips on living a healthy stress free life check out my book Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.