Winter is upon us and not everyone is happy about it. In fact, many of us experience lowered mood, decreased motivation, increased appetite, and fatigue in response to the winter months and this can lead to further problems like social isolation, weight gain and depression. If this sounds like you, all hope is not lost. You do not need to suffer through the cold and darkness anymore. Here’s how to beat the winter blues:
Accept your predicament
It’s winter, there is nothing you can do to change this apart from relocating to Hawaii where it is blissfully balmy every day. (Hey, if this is the realm of possibility for you, then go for it!) But if you are like the rest of us, you are stuck here, for at least the majority of the season. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can do something about it.
Let there be light!
One of the theories about why some people experience depressive symptoms during the colder months is the lack of light. In fact, people in countries where there is very little sunshine in the winter, like in northern Norway and Sweden, have higher incidences of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or depression during autumn and winter months. Dr. Norman Rosenthal, an expert in SAD, and author of the book, “Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder” states that up to 80% of people with SAD benefit from light therapy (sitting in front of a special light box that emits fluorescent light). For milder forms of the winter blues, you don’t need a light box, just spend more time outdoors, get 10 minutes of sunshine every day, and keep up your physical activity. If symptoms persist or become more severe, see your doctor who can assess whether depressive symptoms have a seasonal, psychological or physiological cause (low Vitamin D levels, underactive thyroid function, hypoglycemia, chronic viral infection).
Make winter fun
In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter months happen during a time of holiday cheer (Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day) which helps boost mood, keep busy, and as the saying goes, ‘time flies when you’re having fun!’. But, in Australia, winter is during a time of virtually no holidays making it seem like it is lasting FOREVER. So, you can just suffer through the boredom and the misery of it all, or you can be proactive and check out all the fun stuff on offer in your community, your city and surrounding areas. For instance, in Victoria there is “Christmas in July” celebrations at Sovereign Hill, The Queen Victoria Winter Night Market, Ice Skating in Federation Square, and Fireworks every Friday night in the Docklands. Check out websites like weekendnotes.com and broadsheet.com.au to find out what is going on in your neck of the woods—including loads of free activities for adults and children.
Winter may get you down, but you don't have to let it keep you down.