Is it the winter blues or something more serious?
Many people love the deep, enveloping chill of winter, which encourages us to slow down, wrap ourselves in a blanket, and read a book by the fireplace.
But let’s face it, summer is happier for most of us. Summer means no bundling up. Instead, it’s trips to the ice cream shop, days at the beach, grilling on the porch. Summer is easier.
The colder, shorter days of winter create feeling for some that are akin to sadness, sometimes called the winter blues. There is a difference, however, between longing for warmer temperatures and Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is defined by periods of depression that occur in the winter year after year.
Depressed? Talk to a professional
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a form of depression. Symptoms listed by the American Psychological Association include fatigue, pervasively sad mood, loss of interest, sleep difficulty or excessive sleeping, craving and eating more starches and sweets, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness or despair and thoughts of suicide.
About 10 percent of the U.S. population is thought to be affected by SAD. If you think you are a member of that group, talk to a therapist. Medical treatment might be recommended, but your therapist will also give you some tips that will help with both SAD or a case of the winter blues.
What you can do
- Eat healthy. A balanced diet also improves your mood, or prevents an overload of fat, sugar or protein from overwhelming your system and driving your body’s chemical system into the red zone.
- Exercise. We’re not talking about training for a marathon. Take a walk in the morning or at lunch and soak up some sunshine.
- Create light. Buy a light fixture that will provide the equivalent of natural light and sit in front of it for 30 minutes a day. It will make your body think you are closer to springtime.
- Socialize. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t get together with family and friends. Human contact tends to improve our moods over the long term. Hibernation is for bears, not humans.
- Eat dark chocolate. This sweet stimulates endorphins, which help elevate your mood. The same doesn’t apply to other candy, so limit other sugar-filled treats.
Finally, try to appreciate the winter where you live. Heat up a cup of cocoa, stoke the fire, grab a book and enjoy the comfort that a slower pace allows. If you have the blues, all these steps will improve your mood. If SAD has you in its grips, these tips soften the effect, but a therapist will get the treatment you need to recognize the condition and treat it.
If you are feeling down, call me at (203) 426-3046, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or text me at (203) 733-2261.