The winter blues – also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) or seasonal winter depression – can put a huge damper on our quality of life.
For many people, winter can be a tough time to remain positive and reinforce our mental wellbeing. Oftentimes the winter blues leave us feeling down, depressed or anxious. It is important during these times we don’t forget to take exceptional care of ourselves.
If you’re anything like me, the gray skies and stormy weather are only enjoyable for so long. I crave the warm sunshine of summer and when the winter hits, so do the winter blues.
Seasonal Winter Depression: What You Should Know
Known as S.A.D., seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that usually comes in late fall or early winter, when the days grow shorter and sunlight is scarce.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Sunlight exposure stimulates the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps control your circadian rhythm — the body’s internal 24-hour sleep-wake clock.” With less sunlight during the fall and winter seasons, your circadian rhythm gets pushed off balance.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that usually comes in late fall or early winter.
When the circadian rhythm is thrown off, your brain actually produces more of the sleep hormone melatonin and less of the feel good hormone serotonin. This can make you feel lethargic, prone to overeating, and have a tendency to withdraw socially. It can also affect your memory and ability to focus.
While there are many self-care options for helping with the winter blues, it’s important you seek professional help if you don’t feel self-care is enough or feel that what you’re dealing with is more than seasonal. There are medications and alternatives available from a healthcare provider.
Combat the Winter Blues With These 15 Self-Care Tips:
This is a great list of self-care tips for winter blues to keep on hand and add to as you go through down times during the winter season. Take what works for you to fight those winter blues and leave the things that don’t.
Everyone is different – find the self-care tips for winter that work best for you!
1. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Pick up a vitamin D supplement from any local drug or grocery store. Take it consistently to help raise your vitamin D levels. This helps address the winter blues from the inside out – and also supports a healthy immune system.
2. Get On Your Yoga Mat!
Of course the list wouldn’t be complete without yoga. These yoga poses help combat the winter blues.
Prefer a guided online yoga class? Try this!
Join YA Classes teacher Jenn Pansa as she guides you through a grounding, relaxing, and mind-body soothing yoga class on-demand.
3. Drink Warm Tea
Wrap yourself in a big blanket and curl up with a warm cup of tea. It’s relaxing and comforting! (Self-Care Pro-tip: make sure it’s an herbal, caffeine free option in the evening.)
4. Talk to Someone
You’re not alone! There are tons of people who get the winter blues and find this time of year to be difficult. Reach out and find a support system.
5. Listen to Positive, Upbeat Music
Music has an incredible way of changing your mood. Turn it up and dance off the winter blues!
6. Get Outside When You Can
Weather often makes this difficult during the winter, but find a moment to step outside between stormy weather or watch the rainfall from your porch. Fresh air is a game changer to fight the winter blues.
7. Read a Good Book
Reading is a great way to occupy your mind and keep it from dwelling on the negative.
3 Mindfulness Books to Help You Through Stressful Times
Sometimes being still and connecting to your breath can help release the heaviness and negativity that creeps in during this time of year.
Did you know YA Classes also offers lots of guided meditation classes?
Breath AwarenessKaty Scherer9-Minute ClassAll Levels
Centered Not CensoredYogi Bryan13-Minute ClassAll Levels
Gratitude MeditationJess Rose20-minutes ClassAll Levels
Calm MindCarisa Banuelos20-Minute ClassAll Levels
9. Know Yourself
Pay attention to the times you tend to feel the most down and make it a habit to do something positive during that time.
It’s hard to get moving when you feel down or it’s too stormy to go outside. Take a fitness class on YA Classes. Do jumping jacks while watching your favorite TV show. Set a timer and have a 15-minute dance party in your living room. Do something to get your body moving!
5 Tips to Help You Maintain Your Workout Routine During Winter
11. Eat Healthy
This requires planning ahead. When you’re depressed or down, you often don’t have the energy to cook a big meal. Plan ahead and have healthy food on hand.
12. Go With the Flow
Know that each day will be different and that’s okay. Write “go with the flow” on a sticky note and put it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day as a reminder.
13. Be Kind to Yourself
Try not to get upset with yourself and instead, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and tend to it in a nurturing and caring manner.
14. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water helps your body to stay healthy and keeps your energy levels up. Wash away the winter blues and with a water bottle on hand at all times.
15. Seek Out a Specialist
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel like you need it. You are not alone and there is no shame in reaching out. Sometimes taking good care of yourself means letting someone else help.
Personalize Your Winter Blues Action Plan
Now that you have some ideas and resources to help you through the winter months, it’s time to take action.
Self-care is never one size fits all. Experiment with the ideas listed here, add your own, and cultivate a self-care routine that works for you this winter. Remember your well-being is important and never hesitate to reach out to a friend or a professional if you need help.
You deserve a feel-good winter season!
Remember, you are not alone! If you need support, National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is a great resource. Visit nami.org or call their helpline: 800-950-NAMI
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.
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