How To Ward Off Winter Blues


I saw a meme today that said, “January was a tough year, but we made it!” With one day left to go and a large part of the country suffering through the coldest temperatures in decades, many of us can relate. This winter feels like a never-ending slog and there is still February and most of March left to go before we have much hope of relief. The cold weather and the lack of sunlight, not to mention the 35-day government shutdown, has left countless people with the winter blues. 


If you are lethargic, unmotivated, depressed, prone to hibernation and craving sweets and carbs you may be among them. 


Here are a few more symptoms of winter blues:

1)   You may be sad, irritable and depressed

2)   You may be uninterested in activities you usually enjoy. 

3)   You may be inclined to over indulge in alcohol or food

4)   Your relationships may be suffering


Though we can’t skip the remaining weeks of winter, we can make it more tolerable. 


Here are some tips to ward off winter blues?

1)   Move toward the light: Lack of sunlight plays a big role in winter blues. Shorter overcast days mean less sunlight. It’s important to make the most of what’s available. Open the curtains and blinds, sit next to the windows, venture outside if the weather allows. In addition, you can invest in a light box. Studies indicate that exposure to a light through a light box 30 minutes a day can be as effective as an antidepressant medication. Take a look at this Harvard Health Blog post, Seasonal affective disorder: bring on the light, for more information.

2)   Get Cozy: Embrace the cold, snowy darkness rather than fighting against it.  Put a stew in the instant pot, a fire in the fireplace and wrap up in a warm blanket. Read a book, watch a movie, play board games or just enjoy the fire. 

3)   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.

4)   Make Plans: Looking forward to a special evening out, a day-trip with the family or even a vacation can help a lot.  Making plans to look forward to helps to get your mind off the cold darkness when you have the winter blues. 

5)   Meditate: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. 

6)   Get Moving:Exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing when the mercury drops, but it can really give your mental well-being a boost. Even if the weather keeps you inside, there’s a lot you can do to get your body moving. Walk around the house, get your blood pumping by going up and down the stairs or scan Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or YouTube for exercise options online and on demand. I highly recommend Namaste Yogaas it combines movement and meditation. 

7)   Get help:If trying the options above feels impossible and overwhelming or if you’ve tried them and don’t feel better, get some support. You don’t have to suffer alone. Call your insurance carrier, call your doctor or call me, Rebekah Shackney, LCSW, 917-721-2257.