Winter: it’s cold, the days are short, and there is less sunlight. Even though the season comes around every year, for some people it doesn’t make the drawbacks any more desirable. There are certainly upsides to the winter, like hot chocolate, holidays, and fires in the fireplace, or snow sports. However, for others, these positives aren’t enough to promote consistent contentment during the chilly season. People suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) find this time of year particularly challenging. As many as 4-6% of the US population suffers from SAD. Yet, those who are diagnosed with SAD aren’t the only ones who struggle with the winter blues. Regardless of how someone labels their blue mood, it is important to find ways to cope during this particularly cold winter and the many others to come.
• Embrace the weather
Eventually the hot summer days will roll around and you will find yourself turning up the air-conditioning or spending time basking in the sun. Until then, enjoy the cozy pleasures brought by winter weather. Go ice-skating, or even look for other outdoor activities that maximize the winter atmosphere such as skiing, snowboarding, and sledding in the powdery snow. These heat-producing exercises can make the cold weather more bearable. Not only that, taking advantage of the snow through fun activities can make a good snowfall something to look forward to.
Serotonin levels and energy levels increase when working out. The winter can cause one to feel less motivated to leave the comfort of the cozy chair and warm blanket. However, starting to work some gym time into the daily routine is invaluable for mood boosting and activity drive.
• Travel to warmer climates.
If the resources are available, travel to a warmer climate to absorb the sunshine. Though it may not be for long, some quick face-time with the sunshine and warmth might just be enough to hold you over until spring. Spending time closer to the equator may give you something to look forward to and will help break up the seemingly long winter.
• Maintain a daily vitamin D intake
The sunshine provides a natural source of vitamin D. Since the winter is lacking in sunshine supply, it is important to seek vitamin D from other sources. Vitamin D supplements are a quick fix for a nutrition deficiency, but there it is better to seek it in natural sources for safety and more absorption. Mushrooms, seafood, egg yolks and selective milks and orange juices are all more organic sources to get a daily dose of vitamin D.
• Plan winter date nights
For many, the winter is filled with movie dates, but although it is fun, it isn’t the best way to engage in quality time with your partner. Keep the dates creative even if leaving the house sounds daunting due to the chill. Some fun alternatives are planning a fondue night, cooking together, a picnic by the fireplace, or a game night. Make the time cooped up in the house with a loved one something to look forward to.
• Catch up with friends and family
Take the time to call friends and family that you don’t see very often. Not only will the company lift spirits, but it warm hearts on a cold wintry day.
The weather may deter you from exploring and getting outside, but reading is another way to escape the winter chill while giving you the opportunity to explore. Pick up a book you have been wanting to read and enjoy the adventure it contains in its pages.
• Keep color in the atmosphere
Winter trends and the window views contain darker and more neutral colors that can seem depressing. Wearing and decorating with warm and vibrant colors can lighten a mood. Surrounding yourself with warm, vibrant colors can increase feelings of happiness as a reminder of trees, flowers, blue skies and colors that are associated with the warmer seasons of the year.
If the winter blues seem to be lingering in spite of your efforts, seeking the help of a professional may be in order. In addition to psychotherapy, there are options for light therapy or even medication if the symptoms do not improve. Winter weather does not have to get you down. With the right perspective, winter can be the perfect time to enjoy and refuel as we prepare to engage in the abundance of warmer seasons ahead.