Moving from autumn into winter can lead to feelings of dread about the cold, the dark, and being stuck at home with bad weather. In this post I’ll be sharing tips for managing our mood in the winter, and hopefully preventing winter depression or seasonal affective disorder(SAD). I have found that if I don’t plan ahead for the winter season, winter depression will get me everytime. For me, the best thing I can do for myself for the after-holiday blues, is to plan ahead. This is especially important during this pandemic, because I’m already feeling down about not being able to see my loved ones and friends at Christmas.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- Can I work on a project this winter?
- What creative activity will I have more time for when the weather is too cold and windy to go outside?
- How can I prevent winter depression?
Note: For some of us, winter really messes with our hormones and brain chemical balance. If your efforts at improving or maintaining your mood are unsuccessful, please do not hesitate to let your doctor know. There is no shame in needing medication to get you through the winter months. If you’ve been prescribed medication in the past for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD), now is the time to start it up again.
Tips From Sweden To Prevent Winter Depression
As I was thinking about this topic I remembered Maria from Northern Heart on YouTube. Maria lives with chronic illness in Sweden, and made this lovely video about keeping your mood up during the long, dark, Swedish winters. Just watching her video reminded me that I have something to be thankful for. I get way more hours of daylight than she does. Pennsylvania winters are tough enough. Her video goes over why we feel sluggish during the winter and she offers some great tips. I love her videos!
Summary of Maria’s Tips
Unfortunately, her video is no longer available, but here are her 7 tips:
- Do Not Snooze Or Sleep In: Keeping regular sleep and waking hours is important so our bodies don’t get confused.
- Utilize The Season: focus on those parts of winter that you enjoy.
- Get Enough Vitamin D.
- Exercise: Get outside if even just for 10 minutes and take a walk.
- Enjoy The Season’s Comfort foods: Like hot drinks, and soups and stews.
- Watch Your Attitude: Decide now to make the most of the season, even if you dislike winter.
- Make a Cozy Playlist of your favorite music.
Notes On These Tips From Sweden
Notes: 1. Adjust these suggestions to work for you. If you cannot go outside due to issues with extreme temperatures, perhaps you can sit next to an eastward facing window in the morning for some extra light. Or sit next to a westward facing window later in the day.
2. Or we can purchase a light therapy product. Be sure to discuss light therapy with your doctor before using. There are some mental health conditions that can get worse with light therapy. This article from the The New York Times highlights the best light therapy product according to their researchers. You can read it here: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-light-therapy-lamp/
3. You can see what your Vitamin D level is with a simple blood test. If you get your vitamin D level checked your doctor can help you figure out what dose to supplement with.
Tips From Norway To Prevent Winter Depression
“Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) is a natural part of Norwegians holidays and spare time, and is deeply engrained in the country’s heritage. It’s about embracing the outdoors, even in winter.” “Friluftsliv may not be able to cure SAD and depression, but it can help some of us enjoy, rather than endure, winter this year. To the Norwegians, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, so wrap up warm, make sure you’re protected from the rain, and get outside. Even if it’s just to hug a tree like their Nordic neighbors in Iceland.” If this way of approaching winter appeals to you read the rest of the article below.
However, I’m not a great fan of outdoor activities in the winter due to increased pain with wet, cold weather, and the fear of falling and breaking a bone when it’s snowy and icy. However, I do love to walk outside when the temps are in the 40’s and it’s not too windy. I’ve even enjoyed short walks when the temps are in the 30’s as long as it’s not windy. Perhaps I just need warmer clothes, and boots. (:
Next, I really do believe that our attitude affects how we experience everything in life. I get down and depressed in the winter at times. However, I really do try to make the most of every day. To enjoy the little things. Like a hot cup of tea, after I’ve been outside. The beauty of snow falling. How snowflakes glisten in the light. I try to be thankful that I live in a place that has four seasons. Some people never get to experience the crisp refreshing air of winter. Or the joy that comes in the spring when green things start growing again.
Being mindful is a great way to approach each day, no matter what season you’re in, and being mindful will help you appreciate the joys of winter.
Wrap-Up Of Preventing Winter Depression
If you need more ideas, read Winter Blues? Crush Them With These Tips. Now I hope you’ve got some ideas to use once the holidays are over and life feels “boring.” I hope you all have a very Happy Holiday season. Stay safe!! Till next time, Kathy
P.S. I just read a good article on Women and Depression. You can read it here.
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