The darker, colder months of winter can get easily get you feeling down, sad and depressed. These winter blues - otherwise medically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - cause depression in the late fall and early winter months. Occurring with the onset of less natural sunlight, SAD happens when the body’s natural rhythms are out-of-sync.
People that suffer from year-round depression may experience even more severe symptoms in the winter months, while other people only experience seasonal depression yearly. So whether you’re part of the three percent of the population that suffers from SAD or you have a mild form of seasonal depression, here are some helpful tips for treating your winter blues.
1. Light Therapy
Light therapy boxes mimic natural sunshine. Sitting in front of a lightbox for 30 minutes a day can help stimulate the body’s natural circadian rhythms, suppressing the release of melatonin. Try doing this for 30 minutes every morning. Verilux HappyLight Full-Size Light Therapy Energy Lamp
2. Dawn Simulators
Dawn simulators are similar to light therapy, but they use an alarm clock to increase light intensity to wake you up gradually. Wake Up Alarm Clock
3. Talk to Your Doctor
If you think you suffer from more than just the winter blues, talk to your doctor about seasonal depression. They can help you determine the severity of your winter blues. If you suffer from more severe depression, your physician may recommend taking prescription antidepressants.
Adding essential oils to your bath or diffusing them in your home may help combat the symptoms of seasonal depression. The top essential oils for SAD include sandalwood, tea tree, lavender and lemon.
Exercise can help combat SAD and other types of depression, alleviating some of the symptoms. If it’s too cold to get moving outside, opt for indoor activities, such as a stationary bike, elliptical machine or treadmill. If you prefer group activities, try yoga classes.
6. Get Outside
Even though it’s colder in the winter, getting outside for a short walk during lunch can dramatically help your outlook on life. Getting as much natural light as possible in the wintertime is extremely important for overall mental health.
7. Setting (And Sticking to) a Schedule
People that suffer from seasonal depression often have difficulty sleeping at night, which makes it hard for them to rise in the morning. It’s essential to maintain a regular sleep schedule to help alleviate these symptoms. Additionally, to avoid wintertime weight gain, eat at regular interviews and avoid overeating.
You got it! Sometimes the best medicine is taking a vacation to a warm, sunny destination. Vacations also help you break regular routines, and even a few days in the sun can help rejuvenate and boost your spirits.
9. Vitamin D
Within the last few years, low levels of vitamin D show a link to SAD. A physician can test your vitamin D levels and suggest if supplements are right for you. .
Studies show that writing down your thoughts can positively affect your mood, helping you flush negative feelings out of your system. Try writing in a journal for 20 minutes a day in the evening, which allows you to reflect more on your day.