Fall has officially arrived meaning winter is not too far behind, and you are beginning to get worried. Winter and you don’t get along. The cold, dreary, dark weather is a major blow to your mood. Getting out of bed is difficult. You just want to stay cuddled under that warm blanket. Leaving the house is the last thing you want to do, for good reason, who wants to deal with the cold air or the layers and layers of clothing?
Keeping the Winter Blues Away
Unfortunately, we live in an area where winter can come on with a vengeance and stick around for several months. Staying cooped up in your bed is not realistic. The good news is for the millions of us that suffer from depression in the wintertime, there are things you can do to ward off the blues and get some control over that mindset before the real cold sets in.
First, get as much sunlight as you can. Keep the blinds up, let the sun into your bedroom, your office. If that is not doing it, consider investing in an artificial “sunbox.” These fake sun lights have special fluorescent tubes that mimic the sun’s rays. Try to get as much as you can first thing in the morning—around 30 minutes is ideal—to increase energy levels throughout the day. You can use it while you eat your breakfast or read the morning paper.
Getting Outside Can Help
Get outside and be active. Yes, it is cold but you can layer up. It is important to get your heart rate up while breathing in the fresh air and soaking up as much sun as possible. Maybe it is time to try cross-country skiing, take the dog on a 30-minute walk, go sledding with your children, pick up snowshoeing. Whatever you desire, make the effort to be active outside a few times a week.
If you can’t bring yourself to be active outside, being active inside can also be beneficial. Go to a group exercise class, try indoor cycling, or swim some laps at the local pool. Being active releases feel-good hormones that help to elevate your mood. Good conversation and interaction with others in these spaces can also help. Anything to get your mind off the weather.
Tackle a Project or Plan a Getaway
Plan a trip. Something you can look forward to. Plan it to take place in the middle of the winter, around late January or February. Go someplace warm. It will help to break up the winter slump and boost your mood in the middle of the cold months.
Add a book, sewing, Bunco, cooking club, or another hobby of choice, to your schedule. Anything that will get you out of the house and interacting with others is going to help. Summer feels too busy for many to do these sorts of things, so winter is a perfect time.
If you are still finding it hard to get out of your winter slump, consider seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional. They might be able to offer some other solutions specific to your situation.
Keep in mind winter does not last forever. Spring is just around the corner.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.