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You’ve probably heard about the winter blues before, but if you haven’t, here’s a quick run down: people get sad in the winter, and it sucks. Really sucks. The winter blues usually happen because there’s less sunlight, less daylight, and it’s cold, dark, and let’s be honest, pretty dreary.
Now, I know there are probably some die hard winter fans out there (Great!), but I’m just not one of them. Come November I’m ready to hibernate. But what happens when that hibernation turns into social isolation? Lack of motivation? Unhappiness?
If you’re one of the many people who suffer from the winter blues, winter depression, or even seasonal affective disorder (SAD), then here are 6 things you can do to help this winter!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. These are tips that work for me and that I hope work for you, but they should not take the place of professional help.
Find something you love about winter
There is nothing more life-changing than finding something you love to do in the winter. Instead of dreading the snow, you actually start to get excited about this new hobby or activity that you only get to do at certain times in the year. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing (my fave!), sledding, building snowmen/snow forts, skating. You get the picture.
I started snowshoeing last year and I love it! Not only do I get exercise and spend time outdoors, but I get to bring my dog. That’s a win for me. Fill up a thermos with hot chocolate or cider, chuck on your snow gear, and grab a friend to drag along. Do whatever you have to do to get out there.
Although Amazon doesn’t have the exact pair of snowshoes I own, I found a pair that’s super similar to mine (except $30 bucks cheaper!). I prefer to go without poles, but my partner likes using them. The choice is yours!
Remember: snowshoe length is based on your weight.
Speaking of exercise…
You knew this was coming. I knew this was coming. Everybody and their cat knew this was coming. Exercise is a fantastic way to beat the winter blues. When you exercise your body releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy (and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands! Legally blonde, anyone?)
Get your heart pumping to feel an instant mood boost. Don’t have any equipment, or don’t want to go outside? You’ve still got options! Try a combination of jumping jacks, skip rope, running in place – both high knees and butt kicks, do a plank for as long as you can, or just google any type of free indoor workout that requires little to no equipment. As long as you‘re sweating your body and brain will thank you.
Invest in a sun lamp
Artificial sunlight? Yes, please! Sun lamps are a wonderful, effective way to kick the winter blues. You don’t need anything gigantic or expensive. The one I own cost about $80 bucks, and it recommends you use it for about twenty minutes a day.
Looking back, I wish I would’ve looked on Amazon first. You can get one for $50-$60 dollars, which is a great deal!
So, here are two options I like on Amazon: The first is a bit bigger, which I really like. The second option is a little smaller, but you save a few bucks.
Keep in mind: You may not want to use a sun light at night since the whole purpose of the sun lamp is to trick your brain into thinking you’re outside in the sun. If you use it at night or too close to bed-time your body might think it’s the morning or afternoon still, which can affect your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.
Vitamins are important, especially in the winter. Once that sun goes down, you probably aren’t getting enough sunshine (vitamin D!) especially if you work in an office job or are trapped inside all day. I don’t know about you, but it’s dark by the time I get home from work, which means I get limited sun in the winter. If you don’t do it already, add vitamin D to your list of daily vitamins or pills.
Tip: When summer hits, you probably don’t need to take vitamin D anymore if you’re getting outside more often.
Change your mindset
This can be one of the most challenging tips. It’s hard to change the way we think. When it’s dark and cold it’s easier to feel more negative or gloomy. Try to remind yourself daily about one good thing about winter. Here are a few to get you started: there are fewer noticeable bugs in winter (looking at you, spiders); every single day brings us closer to spring and longer, warmer days; Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, or any other holiday you might celebrate; it’s fun to bundle up in blankets and get cozy.
I’m sure there are more, and I encourage you to think of as many as possible!
Talk to your doctor
This is one of the most important tips on here. If you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder or depression and it’s gotten to the point where it impedes your daily life, or you’re considering hurting yourself, please, please talk to your doctor. You do not have to suffer alone through this. You deserve to feel better.
I hope these 6 tips make your winter much more manageable, and maybe even a little more enjoyable!
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