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As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, a lot of people find their moods following the same pattern. Winter may be in the upswing (hello Spring!), but the excitement of the holidays has disappeared. For some, that only leaves the winter blues.
The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a serious issue. According to American Family Physician, 4-5% of people experience SAD, while another 10-20% experience at least mild SAD each winter. If you’re one of those people feeling a bit more sluggish, a little down, or much less motivated this winter, here are some things that may help.
Exercise releases chemicals in our brains that make us feel happy. If you’re feeling the weight of winter on your mood, be sure to get 30 minutes of exercise in a day. Those 30 minutes can make a world of difference.
2. Stay Social
Make sure you make time for your friends. Getting out in the freezing cold may sound terrible, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did. If you’re stuck inside, give your best friend a call. Catch up with some old friends or family members over email or Facebook.
3. Be Productive
No matter how loudly your bed is calling your name, make sure you stick with a routine. Staying productive is a sure-fire way to beat the blues. Be sure to get up when your alarm goes off, make your bed, open some curtains, and prepare for a busy day!
4. Eat Healthy
Comfort foods are called that for a reason. When you’re feeling down, you are more likely to reach for something full of carbs or sugar. While this may help in the moment, it will only make you feel worse down the road. Be sure to load up on fruits, veggies, and healthy fats during the winter months.
5. Get Outdoors
The sun gives us some much-needed vitamin D. While it’s not always easy to get outside during the freezing tundra of winter, it is still important. Take a few minutes to bundle up and walk around the block on your lunch break. Or, at the very least, sit near the window and soak up the sunshine for a while.
Sometimes the most helpful thing is just to spend some time on yourself. Relax with a bubble bath and a good book or a mani/pedi. Take some time to meditate or journal about your day. Be sure to spend some part of each day focusing on you.
There is no better feeling than helping others. Volunteer at a local nonprofit organization close to your heart and soak in those good vibes. You could walk dogs for a shelter, read to babies at a nursery, knit scarves for the homeless, the list goes on.
8. Create a Playlist
Get a solid, upbeat playlist ready to go for the occasions it’s needed. Be sure to include whatever songs instantly make you smile, sing, dance, or all three.
9. Track Your Mood
Keep a journal and track your mood each day. This can help you identify patterns and find what works for you. This could be a great opportunity to try bullet journaling! Or, if you aren’t quite that ambitious, a regular old journal will do just fine.
10. Call Your Doctor
None of these tips are meant to be cures. If nothing is helping and you’re having a rough winter, call your primary physician. They may have some helpful ideas, or they can hook you up with someone to talk to. Remember, spring is coming!