Beating the Winter Blues

Winter is cold, murky, dark, chilly – and generally very dull and depressing. Most of us feel a little more down in the winter than we do in the summer – but the reason for this is actually due to the fact that we don’t get anywhere near as much sun in the winter than we do in the summer. This is known as seasonal affective disorder, and is thought to affect around twenty percent of people to some extent, although everyone may experience some form of the disorder during the winter. So what can you do to beat the winter blues?

Get Some Light

Light therapy is thought to help up to 85% of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sufferers. One way to use light therapy is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours per day – light therapy cannot be achieved by sitting in front of a lamp, as the light given off by a light box is the same as the light you’d get from sitting in the back garden, whereas the light you get indoors is artificial.

Light boxes are available on prescription or through your medical insurance, but you can also buy light therapy alarm clocks that gradually wake you up using this special light. The light will come on around half an hour before you set your alarm to go off, waking you up gradually so that getting out of bed isn’t such a shock to your system.

Equally, if you’re feeling down but it’s actually a sunny day, get outside and make the most of it! Just ten minutes in the sun can really improve your mood, so as soon as you spot some sunlight, get outside!

Take Up a New Hobby

Keeping your mind active and engaged is an excellent way to ward off the blues, so take up a new hobby or rekindle your love of an old hobby. Even reading a book can really improve your mood, as it gives you the chance to forget about life’s troubles for a while and escape elsewhere. Other hobbies to take up include taking up knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal or writing a blog.

Get Moving

We all know that exercise is effective in treating depression, and this tip is no exception – actually, it has been found that this tip could be more helpful than light therapy in some people. Going for a one hour walk in the middle of the day, every day, can be extremely instrumental in treating seasonal affective disorder and other types of depression. If walking isn’t your thing, go swimming or dancing.

Keep Warm

Perhaps surprisingly, it has been found that if you keep warm, you’re less likely to get depressed. Equally, staying warm can actually reduce your winter blues by half. Perhaps this is due to the fact that being cold feels unpleasant, making us feel miserable, whereas being warm is comfortable and makes us feel more content. Wear warm clothes, socks and shoes, and if you’re especially sensitive to the cold, wear a scarf, hat, gloves or mittens. You could also use portable hand-warmers for an extra bit of heat.

Talk it Out

If you can’t kick the blues, speak out about it – talk to your family, your friends, or anyone who will listen. Get a support network around you so that you know that you have people that you can rely on when you’re feeling down. If your symptoms are particularly severe, speak to your doctor. They can offer support in the form of light therapy, counselling or medication.