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4 Ways to Deal with the Winter Blues

Nicole Hoffmann, PLMHP, ATR-P- January 13, 2022

Each winter, people living in temperate climates sometimes struggle with the lack of daylight hours and the cold, wet weather. Symptoms can include depression, social withdrawal, increased appetite, and increased duration of sleep. This can be referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, and affects anywhere from 1-10% of adults, prevalently women, worldwide. Causes of this disorder include possible chemical changes in the brain and disruptions in people’s circadian rhythms (sleep/wake or rest/activity cycles). Here are some ways to alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  1. Talk to someone. Whenever you are feeling down, reach out to people you trust. Whether it is family, close friends, or a licensed professional, it is important to know that people care about you and are willing to help.

  2. Spend time outdoors. Even when it is cold outside, it’s important to spend time in the sunshine. Vitamin D found in sunlight has proven beneficial for people’s sense of well-being. Taking a brief walk around the block can also get your heart pumping and activate endorphins.

  3. Try a new hobby (or revisit an old one). During the dark hours of winter, it might be a good time to try something new, such as a different form of exercise, reading, journaling, crafting, cooking, etc. If you used to enjoy a hobby but have fallen away from it, now might be a good time to reconnect with it.

  4. Don’t be hard on yourself. It is important to remember that no one is perfect, and we all struggle with mental health at one time or another. If you want to take the time to rest and recharge during the winter season, then do so. Take care of yourself as much as you can.

The good news is winter does not last forever. The days are already getting longer, and spring will be here soon! But until then, listen to your mind and body and take care of yourself. For more information about Seasonal Affective Disorder or to schedule a consultation with one of our therapists or art therapists, please call (402) 401-4445 or visit Sources: Andres Magnusson & Diane Boivin (2003) Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview, Chronobiology International, 20:2, 189-207, DOI: 10.1081/CBI-120019310 Sue Penckofer, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn & Carol Estwing Ferrans (2010) Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?, Issues in Mental Health Nursing,31:6, 385-393, DOI: 10.3109/01612840903437657

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