Seasonal affective disorder is also called “winter blues” (the appropriately acronymed, SAD). This is a real type of depression that gets worse as the days get shorter and darker, from late fall to early spring. During the winter, when there isn’t much sunlight and your energy level has dropped a lot, it can be very important to know how to fight off the winter blues. This can help you keep your emotional, mental, and physical health in balance.
Know that SAD can be treated with antidepressants, talk therapy, and light therapy. This will help you figure out how to avoid getting the winter blues. Symptoms may get better on their own as the seasons change, but you can also take steps to avoid the winter blues. Here are some smart, up-to-date ways to get over the winter blues this year.
1. Go Deeper with Podcasts
You might be able to avoid the winter blues and come out of it with a new passion if you really get into a podcast series as a way to wake up your mind and learn something new (about the world or yourself). Whether it’s the fascinating history of Ivy League fashion and style on the great Articles of Interest Podcast with Avery Trufelman or one of the best outdoor podcasts out there today, podcasts can be a great way to pass the time when the sky is gray and it’s cold outside. They may be just what you need to get you through to spring in a good mood.
2. Start a New Skin Care Routine
Taking care of your skin is one way to keep from getting the winter blues. Spending time each night washing, treating, and moisturizing your face and skin could also make you feel good about yourself and more confident about how you look. This can be done by yourself or with someone you care about as a way to get closer. There are many great skin care products that are made for men and women’s different needs and chemical make-ups. So, guys, don’t think this is just for the women in your life. Your skin needs care, too.
3. Foster a Shelter Animal
Taking care of another living thing is not only cute and satisfying, but it can also help you get over the winter blues. When you foster an animal from a shelter, you agree to take care of it for a short time (as little as a few weeks), feed it, cuddle it, and teach it what it means to be loved and how to play nicely. The huge happiness you feel when you know you’ve helped an animal get ready for a permanent home will go a long way toward keeping you from getting the winter blues.
4. Go Fishing
You may have put away your fishing gear for the winter, but one of the best ways to beat the winter blues is to enjoy your favorite hobby. Get outside and discover the mental health benefits of fishing, whether you spend the weekend in nature, go ice fishing, or just take a long lunch break on a sunny day to be by the water with your line in.
5. Focus on Your Sleep Patterns
When it gets dark before dinner time and it’s cold outside, it’s hard to fight the urge to go to bed earlier and earlier. One way to fight the winter blues is to pay attention to your sleep schedule and find activities to keep your mind and body busy in the evening. This will keep you awake until it’s time to go to bed, which will help you sleep until morning.
6. Get Physical!
One of the best ways to avoid the winter blues is to start an exercise routine that you can stick to. This could mean that you join a gym with a pool so you can swim laps, go hiking, lift weights, or just take daily walks around your neighborhood. Physical activity might not seem like a good idea if your energy is already low in the winter, but moving your body and working your muscles can actually GIVE you energy and make you feel better.
7. Start a Gratitude Journal
Even if it doesn’t seem like much, taking a few minutes every morning or evening to slow down and think about the simple joys of the day can help you avoid the winter blues. There are many free gratitude journal apps that make it easy to start writing down every day what you’re grateful for.
8. Soak up the (Limited) Sun
Fresh air and sunshine can help you feel better, so plan to soak up as much sunlight as you can while there is less of it in the winter. Getting a sunlamp with light bulbs that look like the sun’s rays and give you some of the same important vitamin D is one way to beat the winter blues inside.
Check out these five more things you can do outside to help your mental health.
If hiking during the colder months and these other ways to beat the winter blues aren’t helping, you should talk to a doctor. You may be able to avoid the winter blues this year with the help of other therapies and medicines.