It’s not uncommon to feel winter blues because of the cooler temperatures and shorter days. During the winter, it’s typical to feel worn out, depressed, have trouble concentrating, and have problems sleeping.
Some manage this mood change by making simple changes to their lifestyle. However, for some people, the winter blues can develop into seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a more severe form of depression.
However, the good news is that you can take steps to combat the winter blues with the following tips:
1. Food Can Improve Your Mood
Think about your diet as an easy way to improve your mood. Consuming foods enriched with vitamin D, such as milk, orange juice, breakfast cereal, yoghurt, and other meals, as well as foods high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish and fish oil, can help maintain mood stability.
One meta-analysis revealed that low vitamin D levels are associated with depression and that low vitamin D levels increase the risk of depression. Consult your doctor about taking a supplement if you are not getting enough vitamin D from food or sunlight, especially in the winter.
2. Get good quality sleep
Sleep – whether we get enough or too little – has a significant impact on our mood. Our circadian rhythm can be thrown off if we don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, which also affects the rhythms of cortisol and the synthesis of hormones.
Try to improve your sleep routine by:
- Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
- Taking a bath, lower the lights, or drink a cup of herbal tea as part of your basic evening routine to signal relaxation.
- Within 15 minutes of waking up, exposing yourself to light.
- Ensuring your room is dark and quiet
- Using no electronic devices in your bedroom.
- Before going to sleep, jot down all of your worry-related thoughts on paper so that you can identify them in the morning.
3. Book a staycation
We all feel better when we have something exciting to look forward to – but it doesn’t have to be a big deal or cost a fortune. For example, if your co-worker’s planned trip to Europe has you yearning to go, you can still recharge by organising mini-getaways close to home while saving money. Even just planning a day out locally, like an afternoon coffee with friends, trying out a new restaurant in a neighbouring town, or attending a concert, is much easier to find time for and arrange than an exotic vacation, even if you don’t have the money or time off work to do so.
4. Stay connected
Isolation and loneliness often exacerbate the effects of the winter blues. Stay close to your network of loved ones – which could consist of friends, family or even co-workers. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that socialisation and human touch are crucial for maintaining our mental health.
Finding a way to spend time with encouraging people when you are suffering from the winter blues is essential for improving your attitude. This could involve going for walks outside or just having a phone conversation.
5. Spend time in the sun
During the winter, going outside should be a top priority. Sun exposure is essential, even in the winter, as SAD symptoms are exacerbated by a lack of it.
Being outside in the sun (safely) improves mood by balancing serotonin activity, increasing melatonin production, regulating your circadian rhythm, and raising vitamin D levels.
Move a chair, workstation, or kitchen table adjacent to a window that gets sunshine if you are unable to spend time outside. Aim to spend at least one to two hours every day sitting in this position.
6. Reach out for professional help
If you’ve tried all you can think of but your interventions are not working to alleviate the winter blues, it may be time to think about getting professional assistance. Psychotherapy is strongly advised for the treatment of depressive disorders and would probably be helpful for everyone struggling with SAD.
To learn more about our services for winter blues or to book, click here or call our friendly reception team on 1800 327 477 (AU) / 0800 327 477 (NZ).