Feeling S.A.D.? Try These Effective Ways to Overcome the Winter Blues
Fall and winter are the seasons for sweaters, pumpkin lattes, hot cocoa and cuddling under warm blankets. The days are generally gloomy and cold, but depending on where you live, you’ll get a few sunny days to remind you that spring is coming.
Waking up early and following a morning routine when the sun hasn’t come out yet is a challenge. Then, you rush to work and spend the entire day in your office. By the time you leave the office, it’s already dark outside.
It’s not unusual to feel a little under the weather or even outright depressed. The lack of sunlight can have serious effects on people’s well-being and mental health, especially in cities with fewer sunshine hours per year.
If you feel sad, sluggish, moody, and fatigued during the fall and winter months, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the winter blues.
Another common symptom of S.A.D. is craving chocolate and other foods high in carbs. Luckily, seasonal depression only lasts a few months. When spring comes with bright sunny days, you’ll feel the cloud lifting from above your head, literally.
Until then, read on to learn the most effective ways to overcome the winter blues naturally, one day at a time.
Get Outside More
Though fall and winter days are mostly foggy and grey, you still need daylight and fresh air. Make an effort to go out for a walk during the day (if the weather allows it), even if you don’t feel like it.
Make time in your day, preferably in the morning, to get out of the house, even if to the nearest park or around your neighborhood.
This will help you clear your head, get out of your funk and start the day fresh.
When you’re feeling depressed, it’s hard to get motivated to do anything and in winter, the weather is not helping. But sometimes, all you need to brighten up is to forget about your worries and loosen up a bit.
Put on a playlist of happy music and dance around your home. Bake your favorite cookies or create your own recipe from scratch. Fill up the bathtub, drop some colorful bath bombs in there and relax with a good book or podcasts.
Have a long play session with your pet – it’s a proven way to guard off depression and restore good mood.
Engage in creative activities like writing, drawing or coloring to take your mind off depressive thoughts.
If you feel like it, go out for drinks with friends or just by yourself in a busy coffee shop.
Or, try these 25 ways to instantly improve your mood on a bad day.
Eat a Bar of Quality Dark Chocolate
We often reach for something sweet and chocolaty when we want to cheer up. One of the symptoms of seasonal depression is craving simple carbs.
A bar of high quality organic dark chocolate will not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but also help you feel better. Plus, it goes great with a cup of steaming hot coffee so you can watch your mood improve in minutes.
But it’s not the sugar in chocolate that cures the winter blues. It’s the tryptophan - an amino acid that turns into serotonin in the human body.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation and feelings of happiness. Its levels may drop during the winter months because of lack of sunlight, leading to feelings of depression or S.A.D.
The human body cannot produce its own tryptophan which is why it has to come from food. Dark chocolate is rich in this amino acid and the carbohydrates help convert it into serotonin more easily. Once tryptophan enters the body, it transforms into 5-HTP (a precursor for serotonin) and then becomes serotonin.
Plan a Vacation Somewhere Sunny
S.A.D. is partly a result of a vitamin D deficiency and lack of sunlight. The best way to counteract the winter blues is to go somewhere sunny.
Currently, somewhere on the planet is spring or summer, so pack your bags and travel to a faraway destination. The winter blues will quickly drown in the blue waters of a tropical island.
Some of the best destinations with mild to warm temperatures in December through February are:
- Phuket in Thailand
- Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa
- Sydney in Australia
- Buenos Aires in Argentina
- Costa Rica
- The Maldives
Get a Sunrise Clock or a Light Machine
If you can’t travel to a sunny place, a sunrise simulation clock or light machine will do the trick. You’ll wake up naturally and more easily in the morning, even if the sun is not up yet.
Your mood will improve and the symptoms of seasonal depression, irritability and lethargy will start to diminish.
You can also use a light therapy lamp during the day to replenish the light you’re missing.
Get Into Winter Mode
The winter months are perfect for catching a break from life, especially if you suffer from S.A.D. Try to embrace the slow pace of nature and do all the wintery things.
Get into hibernation mode and grab the warmest blanket you can find. Create a cozy atmosphere at home, light some scented candles and watch your favorite TV shows.
Spring is for fresh starts and summer is for adventures. During winter, even nature takes it easy – and so should you.
Beat the Winter Blues with These Effective Tips
Whether it’s sunbathing on a beach somewhere or enjoying a walk in the crisp winter air, there are many simple and natural ways to beat the winter blues.
You don’t need antidepressants or extraordinary efforts – just listen to your body and mind and do what makes you feel good.
Frosina A. Ivanovic is a content marketing specialist and writer. She’s passionate about quality coffee, travel, wellness, and digital marketing. You can connect with Frosina on LinkedIn or her website, Zhillmatic.