Seasonal depression, or the winter blues, can be much more serious than we realize. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) typically affects people the most during the fall and winter. You may experience feelings of persistent anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, and irritability along with decreased energy, trouble concentrating, changes in sleep and appetite, as well as loss of interest in hobbies and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. Talking with your healthcare provider is vital in treating and managing SAD and your mental health. If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. Find support by texting or calling 988 or through the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
We want to share some helpful information regarding ways to ease seasonal depression. These may seem small or insignificant, but the smallest changes can indeed make the biggest impact. Here are a few tips on how to overcome the winter blues:
1. Try bright light therapy.
One effective treatment for SAD is a lightbox. These lights are brighter than traditional light bulbs and simulate sunshine, which can help give your brain a much-needed boost. A dawn simulator alarm clock is another good choice for producing full-spectrum light that gradually wakes you up.
2. Get creative with maintaining social connections.
Staying connected with friends and family can be hard when there’s less daylight and unpredictable weather. Plan indoor gatherings and activities like trivia or game nights, implement virtual catch-ups, or take an online class to learn a new hobby!
3. Go outside whenever you can.
Nothing is as good as going outside and soaking in the sun’s rays. Even on cloudy days, it’s better to get outside if you can for the fresh air. When you are inside, open your blinds so you benefit from as much natural light as possible during the daytime.
4. Utilize aromatherapy.
Essential oils can influence your mental and physical wellness and can potentially help reduce the side effects of seasonal depression. Whether you add them to a hot bath or apply them with an aroma stick, using essential oils such as bergamot, jasmine, neroli, cedarwood, and patchouli could be beneficial.
5. Keep your body moving.
Another tip for how to overcome the winter blues is to move your body. Exercising regularly works to decrease an anxious and depressed mood, and walking is one of the best activities anyone can do. If you’re unable to go outside, you can utilize gym equipment or complete simple exercises at home to break a sweat.
6. Drink less alcohol.
When you’re feeling low, you may tend to drink more, but that can increase feelings of depression and eventually lead to dependence and addiction. Instead, fuel your body with healthy foods and prioritize a nutrient-dense diet so that your body can function at its best.
7. Stick to a sleep schedule.
One of the common side effects of SAD is oversleeping and napping. Try to maintain a normal sleep schedule as much as possible by going to bed and getting up at the same time, having a consistent bedtime routine, and avoiding blue light an hour or so before bed.
8. Introduce mindfulness practices like journaling.
Journaling is a great way to voice your thoughts and allow yourself to work through your feelings and emotions. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, and other mindfulness practices also force you to focus and be present, which positively impacts your mental health. Above all, it’s important to have a strong support system of friends or family, and even a therapist, to help you. That way, you are consistently reminded that you are not alone and support is there when you need it.
So now you know how to overcome the winter blues. Our local pharmacy is here to be a resource for all things health and wellness. We care for your mental well-being just as much as your physical health! Contact us today and let us know how we can best serve you!