Beating the Winter Blues

Maine is certainly a beautiful landscape to behold when the leaves are changing colors or when everything is blanketed in freshly fallen snow. But with this beauty also comes the winter cold and the waning daylight hours. This hits some people harder than others. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, becomes more common during the winter season leaving individuals feeling depressed and less energetic.

Depression can be a trigger for substance use in some and can increase risk of relapse. It’s important to manage the symptoms of SAD and take steps to boost mood and stay positive. Even people without this condition can still be struck with the occasional dismal feelings or lack of motivation. Here are a few ways that you can support better mental health during the winter:

Let the light shine in by opening blinds and taking advantage of daylight hours. If you can, move yourself closer to a window while working or relaxing so that you are in the sun and can see it outside. Creating a naturally brighter environment can boost your mood.

A light box can help as well. These devices simulate the light from the sun. Sitting near a light box for 30-45 minutes per day has been shown to help fight off symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Take a walk during the day if you can as well. Use your lunch break to get outside, even for a short time. Plus, this supports your body in receiving its daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.

When you’re stuck inside due to the weather or the darkness, make it a more enjoyable time by engaging in fun indoor activities. Teach yourself to knit, crochet, or sew and make some cozy blankets and scarves. Practice checkers or chess and hold friendly competitions with family and friends. Put on your favorite music and have a dance party or simply enjoy the soothing tunes. There are tons of other hobbies to get involved in as well such as painting, playing an instrument, craft making, journaling, model cars, baking, and much more.

Don’t forget to surround yourself with people who make you laugh as well. Spend time with people who boost your mood and who you can’t help but feel good around. This can take your mind off of the cold, blustery winter and shift it to warmer, happier thoughts. Laughter also helps in the production and release of endorphins in the brain which are a natural mood booster.

Also, stay active, eat right, and get adequate sleep. This doesn’t mean spending all day in bed. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Having regular sleep and wake times and incorporating physical activity into your day can help ward off symptoms of SAD. Make sure you are fueling your body with a well-balanced diet as well to get all of your daily vitamins and minerals while stabilizing your blood sugar.

It may take some trial and error, but figure out what works best for you and what enhances your energy and mood during the winter. Pay attention to your mental health as it is an integral part of your overall well-being and ongoing recovery. Crossroads treats both addiction and mental health disorders so that clients feel more prepared in recovery and can build a healthier lifestyle. Therapy groups and support group meetings can also help clients feel more empowered and discover other ways to beat the winter blues. Don’t let seasonal affective disorder take a toll on your recovery efforts. Implement strategies to keep yourself feeling positive and energetic this winter season.

[cta] If you’re struggling with seasonal affective disorder, depression, or other mental health issues, Crossroads can support you in recovery. Call today to learn more. [/cta]