Millions of Americans have been stuck indoors this winter, as record-breaking freezing temperatures continue to sweep across the country. All of that time spent inside not only makes you go stir crazy, but it can also lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – more commonly referred to as the winter blues.
When the days are shorter and the sun seems virtually nonexistent, it is common for people to dip into a state of depression. Since we are now well into the winter season, the winter blues may be at your doorstep. Fortunately, there are ways to combat this seasonal affliction.
Winter depression busters for seasonal affective disorder or winter blues:
1) Lighten things up – Winter depression often starts when the clocks turn back and people start waking up in the dark. Michael Terman, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center, tells TIME Magazine that light therapy in the morning can be extremely effective treatment for SAD.
“It’s an energizer that gives a morning boost, whether you’re depressed or just sluggish,” Terman says. “And it has direct antidepressant properties, stimulating the same neurotransmitters as antidepressant medications.”
To battle winter blues with light therapy, you can purchase special light boxes or visit a professional who specializes in light therapy.
2) Fill up your social calendar – When the days are so short, it may seem difficult to drag yourself off your couch to engage in social activities, but this is just what your mind needs to stay healthy during the winter months.
Socializing boosts your mood and can effectively combat seasonal depression, so make a point to fill up your weekly social calendar, and stick to your plans!
Whether you decide to go out for after-work drinks with coworkers or plan a weekend ski trip with your closest friends, you will help keep the winter blues at bay (and may actually enjoy this winter season!).
3) Get your sweat on – This should come as no surprise, but exercise is one of the best natural treatments for winter blues. Exercise releases endorphins, which boost your mood and create a feeling of happiness.
Working out regularly also increases your confidence, so you will be less likely to sentence yourself to your dark house this winter and more likely to get out and socialize.
Don’t limit yourself to just cardio or weight training, though, as the meditative practice of yoga also helps reduce stress and ward off depression.
4) Pamper yourself – If there’s ever a time to indulge and treat yourself with a massage, it’s the dead of winter. During a massage, cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases significantly, while serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to stable moods, rises.
So take some “me time” and pamper yourself with a relaxing, mood-enhancing massage.
5) Take happy supplements – While a healthy diet plays an important role in fending off SAD, you can also take supplements that help support a happy and healthy mind.
To keep your spirits high this winter, take vitamins such as vitamin D, Omega-3s, melatonin, and magnesium. Of course, always talk with your doctor before taking any medications or supplements.
Don’t just count down the days until spring; instead, enjoy the next few months, however cold or dark they may be. By staying active and social, you can have a happy, SAD-free winter.