Tips for Minimizing the Winter Blues
By Shannon Schwarberg, MS
Winter weather can be brisk, and if you’re like me, winter can mean plenty of baking and lots of cozy warm sweaters, too. On a less appealing note, for many of us, winter also means the onset of winter blues or even Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.
An easy way to differentiate between the winter blues and SAD is the severity of symptoms. While the winter blues may manifest more like sadness, irritability, and disruption in motivation. SAD, although similar, is more complex, and mirrors major depressive disorder, making it difficult to function or find pleasure in day-to-day life.
To combat the common winter blues, try participating in uplifting, seasonal activities. The following are some great tips:
- Keep a good sleep routine and try to get in a habit of waking up early. Sleep is always an essential ingredient to being healthy.
- Keep active. Even if it’s a quick walk outside or your favorite stretches, it’s important to keep your body moving.
- Eat healthfully. Winter is a great time for warm healthy soups and lots of root vegetables! A great resource for beating the winter blues with healthy eating is available at https://tinyurl.com/2u6aj5vt.
- Journal. Use this time as relaxation time. De-stressing through journaling can be a great way to wind down and organize your thoughts.
- Socialize when and how you are able. Spend time with positive friends and/or family. The people you keep in your life have a very strong effect on your well-being.
- Keep up with therapy and support groups. There are also many online options available.
- Brighten up your home. LED lights specifically tend to be brighter, and brightly colored home décor is thought to have mood-boosting effects.
- Use light therapy. Consider a Light box, of which there are many available at Amazon.com. Research suggests that this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that can positively affect mood and ease symptoms of SAD.
- Start taking a vitamin D supplement. Ask your primary care doctor for guidance first, but many Western New Yorkers lack sufficient quantities of this important vitamin that has many benefits.
- Sit by the fire. A warm cup of cocoa and a toasty fire are great ways to enjoy the winter!
Remember, Spectrum Health is here for you if you need additional support. Our clinical locations follow a strict COVID protocol and are warm and inviting places to help you start feeling more like yourself.
Shannon Schwarberg, MS is a senior program manager at Spectrum Health & Human Services.