People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), aka the clinical name for the winter blues, aren’t the only ones struggling with these shorter, colder days. The lack of sunlight has been proven to disrupt our circadian rhythm, the body’s biology clock. With gray, chilly mornings, it’s not unusual to want to stay in with a cup of hot chocolate and binge watch Netflix all day. Personally, I am not a very big winter fan, so I have to work extra hard to keep up with good mental health during these colder months.
Here a few techniques I use to life my spirits during these dreary days:
- Open the window! Soak up as much sun as you can during the day. If it’s a rather dull day, use an alternative like artificial light, or light boxes, to satisfy your body’s sunlight needs. Some studies show that using a mere 30 minutes of a lightbox is as effective as an antidepressant.
- Make a movie and book list. Remember that movie your friend recommended but you haven’t had time to watch? It’s time! Winter is great time to immerse yourself in a great drama or comedy (especially if you’re a freeze baby like me and try to limit your time in the blistering cold).
- Turn on some tunes! Not that you ever need an excuse to turn up your favorite song, but studies have proven that listening to upbeat music significantly improves your mood both in the short term and long term.
- Build a snowman! Do you wanna build a snowmannnn? (Sorry, it’s like a reflex at this point.) If you are someone that doesn’t mind the cold, then grab a hat, gloves, and some friends and head out to the front lawn to build a snowman or start a snowball fight! Reverting back to your favorite childhood memories is sure to bring a smile to your face.
- Stay social. While binge watching Netflix is sometimes helpful in beating the winter blues, nothing will brighten your mood more than hanging out with some of your best friends.
- Do an act of kindness! There has been tons of research that proves helping others or volunteering can improve your mental health and increase overall life satisfaction. Not only can this bring a smile to your face, but you never know whose day you might be brightening!
If your symptoms persist, or seem to grow worst, contact the health center. Sometimes what seems like a bad case of the winter blues can actually turn out to be a little more. Hiram offers free counseling Monday-Friday, so call and schedule an appointment at 330-569-5418.