The holidays are over and according to the groundhog we still have 6 more weeks of winter. The other day I saw a meme on FB that sums up how many people are feeling at this point in the season. It said, “It literally feels like January 75th.” I can absolutely relate and I’m sure you can, too. It feels like this winter is particularly bad because so many people are getting sick. This year’s flu virus is the worst in decades. Needless to say, this winter has sucked and with several weeks before we see spring many people are suffering from the winter blues.
If you find yourself lacking motivation and energy, sleeping more and craving carbs you may be one of them.
Here are a few more symptoms of winter blues:
1) You may be increasingly sad, irritable and depressed
2) You may be unmotivated and lose interest in activities you once enjoyed
3) You may find yourself overeating, especially carbs
4) Your relationships may be suffering
Of course, we can’t change the season. No matter what we do winter will be upon us through the rest of February and most of March.
What can be done now to ease the winter blues?
1) Lighten up: A big factor in winter blues is the short days and decreased exposure to sunlight. Take advantage of the light that is available. Open the curtains and blinds, sit next to the windows, venture outside if the weather allows. Beyond that, you can get a light box. Studies show that exposure to a light through a light box 30 minutes a day can be as effective as an antidepressant medication.
2) Look forward: Plan a special evening out, a day-trip with the family or even a vacation. Research indicate that the act of planning something fun and looking forward to it can go a long way to improving your mood when the winter blues strike.
3) Snuggle up: Rather than fighting against the cold, darkness and inclement weather embrace it. Put on soft cozy clothes, snuggle under a fuzzy blanket, put a fire in the fireplace and relax with a hot drink. Watch the beauty of the fire as it burns while the snow falls outside…magical.
4) Invest in a dawn simulator: A disruption in the circadian rhythm is thought to contribute with winter blues. Dawn simulators expose a sleeper to light gradually for a half hour or more before waking. This helps ease the transition from sleep to waking when mornings are still dark.
5) Eat mood boosting foods: Carb cravings go hand in hand with winter blues, and it’s no wonder. Carbs do a great job of boosting your mood. But if you choose refined and sugary carbs they ultimately leave you feeling more depressed and anxious. Not to worry, if you’re craving carbs go ahead and indulge, but be smart. Whole grains, fruits and dark chocolate will give you the dopamine boost you want without the crash. For more information, here’s a guide to healthy carbs.
6) Meditation: You’ve surely heard about the benefits of meditation. It can help relieve stress, boost your immune system and improve your mood. It is also recommended for people with winter blues.
7) Exercise: When it’s cold outside and you’re feeling low exercise often falls by the wayside. However, getting your body moving may go a long way to helping you feel like yourself again. If you can’t make to the gym because of the weather there are tons of options online and on demand. I highly recommend Namaste Yoga as a way to combine movement and meditation on one shot.
8) Get help: If the idea of trying the suggestions above is overwhelming or if you’ve tried them to no avail it’s time to get some help. You don’t have to suffer alone. Call your insurance carrier, call your doctor or call me, Rebekah Shackney, LCSW, 917-721-2257.