The “Winter Blues” are no joke! A lot of people tend to feel a little down this time of year. Colder weather and shorter days can make you feel sluggish, irritable, sad, and withdrawn. It’s common to sleep longer than usual, gain some weight, or cry more often.
If these feelings get to the point where it is affecting your relationships or employment, you may be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD for short. Psychologists love their acronyms). SAD is depression brought on by changes in the season.
Symptoms of SAD include:
- Feeling depressed most days
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Losing interest in things that you used to enjoy
- Low energy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in your appetite and weight (eating more or less than usual)
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
If you find yourself dealing with SAD or you just would like some help managing the Winter Blues, here are a few things you can try.
Use Your Senses
Depression is a battle of the mind. To get out of your head, you’ll need to engage your physical body. An easy way to do this is to use your five senses. Listen to upbeat music. Take a shower with fragrant body wash. Eat something you like. Watch a funny movie. Wear comfortable clothes and wrap yourself up in a soft blanket. Pay attention to the sensations to stay grounded in the present moment.
Carbohydrate cravings and lethargy are common elements of SAD. Fight them by maintaining a healthy diet and moderate exercise. A 10-minute walk outdoors is enough to help boost your endorphins! Focus on fresh and high nutrient foods and avoid sweets and fried food.
Purposefully fill in your social calendar to make sure you’re seeing other people on a regular basis. While it is good to have time alone to recharge, depression thrives in isolation. Counteract this by spending time with others. You may have to force yourself but you’ll feel better afterwards!
Keep your eyes open for signs of depression. Be as proactive as possible in preparing the tools and structure you’ll need to get through the season. After that, it’s a matter of waiting it out. It will be easier some days and harder on others. Create a mantra such as “Just for today” or “This too shall pass” to help remind you that you will feel better soon.
If you can, take a break someplace warm! Some people schedule their vacation time during January or February to travel south. Even a short break in a hot tub or sauna can help you feel better! A quick Google search can help you find several of Seattle’s affordable hot tubs and saunas.
Considering reaching out to a therapist, like Quietude Counseling. A trained therapist can help make suggestions or provide encouragement, both of which can be very helpful during depressive episodes. Medication may also help ease the symptoms.
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