Cold air and less sunshine are common reasons many people experience what’s known as the winter blues. But what are the winter blues, and are they different from depression? The term “winter blues” is one way people refer to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This disorder is also known as seasonal depression as it’s due to the change in weather, often occurring in the fall and winter.
However, not all cases of the winter blues are actually SAD in a clinical sense. In some cases, people simply feel less energetic and not as happy over the winter months due to the lack of sunshine, shorter days, and colder weather, without their symptoms being severe or persistent enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis. Whether you’ve been clinically diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder by a healthcare provider or psychologist or you simply feel more down and dreary during the colder months, there are things you can do to combat the winter blues.
Some symptoms of SAD include:
● Feeling sad most of the day
● Feeling uninterested in activities you like
● Feeling tired and having low energy levels
● Oversleeping, changes in appetite, and weight gain
Saying goodbye to warm weather and welcoming cold air and snow is difficult to accept. Luckily, you can do a few things to boost your mood during these difficult months. Here are some ways you can combat the winter blues.
1. Make a Movie and Reading List and Get Cozy
When the temperatures start dropping, getting cozy in your home can make you feel better. If you have a fireplace, light a fire. Then get cozy on your couch with blankets and your pets. Take a notebook and pen and create a list of movies and books you want to read over the winter months.
After you have your list, plan to watch one of these movies or do some reading every day. It’ll give you something to look forward to, especially after a tiring day at work. Pop some popcorn, make a nice cup of hot cocoa or coffee, and snuggle up in some blankets for your movie-watching or reading.
2. Treat Yourself to Some Flowers and Chocolate-Covered Fruit
The winter can become rather dull as many trees and plants die off. It can be sad looking out the window and seeing this. Luckily, many companies, like FruitFlowers®, offer flower delivery services. So, you can brighten your home with some fresh flowers even in the middle of the winter.
You can also order some tasty chocolate-covered fruits with your flowers to make the delivery extra special. Looking at some beautiful blooms while eating some tasty chocolate-covered strawberries is sure to boost your mood just a little bit.
3. Hang Out With Friends
If you’re feeling down in the winter, you’re not the only one. Some of your friends are likely feeling the same way. Try inviting some friends over to hang out so you can boost each others’ moods. Simply laughing with friends is a great mood booster. Some ideas for hanging out with friends in the winter include:
● Having a movie or game night with snacks, blankets, and hot cocoa
● Having a wine and paint night at someone’s house
● Going out to eat
● Doing winter activities like sledding, skiing, or ice skating
4. Exercise, Eat a Healthy Diet, and Take Vitamin D
Daily exercise and eating a healthy diet can help you with your winter blues. Even simply doing yoga for an hour a day or walking on a treadmill can help you. You don’t need to do vigorous exercise. In addition to activity, eating a nutrient and vitamin-rich diet is good for your body and brain.
Some foods believed to have antidepressant properties include:
● Oysters, mussels, and other seafood
● Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, watercress, and spinach
● Fruits like papaya and strawberries
Another thing you should do is take vitamin D supplements. The sun provides us with vitamin D, but the amount of sunshine we get in the winter significantly drops compared to the summer. We also stay inside because it’s cold. Vitamin D is essential in bone health, fighting infections, and reducing inflammation. You should get at least 600 IU of vitamin D a day.
5. Start a New Hobby
If you don’t necessarily have any hobbies, then the winter months can be quite rough. Do some research about things that you’re interested in and try to pick up a new hobby. Something like knitting, painting, scrapbooking, or even gaming will keep you busy in your downtime. Keeping your mind busy is key to keeping your brain happy.
6. Do Something Outside
Although the air might be cold, you can still go outside and do things. Fresh air is good for you, and you’ll get a little extra vitamin D too. Just bundle up in some warm clothes, and you can easily enjoy outdoor activities such as:
● Having a bonfire with friends and roasting marshmallows
● Ice skating, skiing, sledding, and participating in other winter sports
● Hiking or simply going for a walk
● Make snow angels, build a snow fort, or have a snowball fight
7. Take a Vacation or Have a Staycation
Taking a vacation somewhere sunnier and warmer is the perfect thing to boost your mood. You don’t have to go far for this, as many states have warmer climates all year round. Places like Florida, Texas, and Arizona have relatively warm climates throughout the year. Of course, there are more tropical places to visit farther away as well, such as:
● The Bahamas
If you’re on a budget and can’t travel, having a staycation can be just as fun. Staying home or staying in your home state doesn’t have to be boring in the winter. You could even get a hotel room to make it feel more like a vacation. Some staycation ideas include:
● Renting a hotel room or an Airbnb to have an in-state getaway
● Having a movie night with popcorn, candy, and takeout
● Have a cocktail and game night with friends
● Going on a state-wide road trip
8. Talk to Someone
When you just can’t seem to kick the winter blues, sometimes talking to friends and family, or even a therapist, is the best choice. Simply sharing your feelings with others can lift some significant weight off your shoulders. If you talk to a professional, they might be able to equip you with some coping methods to help you through this tough time of the year.
Luckily, there are plenty of therapy options available online and in person. Some services even allow you to text your therapist if you don’t feel like talking. Ensure you get the help you need if the winter blues are too overwhelming.
Wintertime is a mentally challenging time for many people, but it doesn’t always have to be this way. Keeping yourself busy, hanging out with people you love, and getting help are great ways to keep your spirits up in these rough months. Use this list to help you get out of that winter blues rut.
Never hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider if your symptoms persist or become too severe to overcome. In fact, it’s a good idea to let your provider know that you’re experiencing some winter blues and what you’re doing to combat them, even if you’re able to cope with them effectively on your own. That way, your healthcare provider can keep an eye on your symptoms and suggest other treatments if needed.