If it seems like every year you feel a little “sad” during the winter, you’re not alone. Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) is a real affliction that occurs when people spend less time outside and more time indoors, such as throughout the long winter season. And while here in Louisiana we don’t get quite the same cold or snow that our northern friends do, there are still many people who suffer from the “Winter Blues”.
It’s not just the cold weather that keeps us in a state of blah, dull or lifeless moments. Psychologists cite other factors, such as the foods we eat. People often eat heartier meals than in the summer months. Salads and sandwiches get replaced by sugary substitutes, especially over the holidays and people go into a “storing” state of mind. Much like the bears hibernating for winter, they get their fill of food and then spend a lot more time inside. Your home becomes a cave!
Less sunlight can also contribute to the sadness. Lack of Vitamin D or sunshine does affect your mental state of being. So with all of these things stacked against you, how can you beat the winter blues?
Here are 7 ways to overcome winter depression:
Participate in physical activities. Whether you join a gym, a health club, a racquetball league or even take part in weekly bowling or indoor golf, these all help to keep your body moving and your mental state of mind from developing sadness.
Maintain a healthy diet. You already know that during the summer you are prone to eat less and play more, but eating good, healthy foods actually helps to improve your mind and keep it sharp and focused. Say “No” to the pumpkin pie or sweets you would normally reach for. Avoid sodas, even diet soda and super sugary energy drinks.
Take part in social activities. Participating in church activities, memberships to organizations, work-related events or even attending local events can give you something to look forward to. That constant motion of looking forward to something fun can help you beat the winter “blahs”.
Avoid too much TV, games or internet. Too much media, especially negative shows that feature gruesome or depressing topics (even the news!) can lead to being more depressed. Turn off the TV and if it’s too cold outside, just dig out some board games and have more fun with your family instead!
Take a trip. Again, having a vacation or downtime to relax can greatly improve your mental state. All work and no play is no fun, so save up every year for at least one fun trip with the people you love. The “looking forward” state of mind and even the memory of the trip after you return will make your sadness go away.
Watch out for negativity. If you surround yourself with motivating people, fun things to do, less TV and stressful tasks (or people) at work, this can help to improve your mood. There is a reason why they say, “Misery loves company” but you don’t have to participate in other people’s misery or negativity and let it suck the life out of you.
Don’t drink or drug your depression away. Drinking and drugs, even over-the-counter remedies will only enhance your mood and can be highly addictive.
Finally, if all else fails, try smiling and laughing! Call someone who will make you feel good inside and who can make you laugh. Or if you must watch TV and movies, opt for comedies and kids movies that have a good message of positivity! You’ll be amazed at how much brighter your outlook on life will be and how fast the winter will disappear!