While it may seem strange to begin thinking about the winter blues with 80-degree weather, preparing yourself for seasonal transitions can go a long way in helping reduce symptoms and improve overall well-being during the cold, dreary months. Whether you have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or not, there seems to be a general sense of anxiety in regards to mood changes during the winter months. The days become shorter and colder. The social scene seems to dwindle down. People tend to spend more time at home. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the possible decrease in mood, but also a lot of preventative measures that can be taken. Here are a few tips to brighten your spirits as you prepare for colder weather and inevitable feelings of hibernation.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to thinking about the winter blues is that they become so preoccupied with thoughts of negative outcomes, that they forget to take a moment and try to enjoy all that is going on around them. Practicing mindfulness can make a big difference in one’s mood. Take some time out of each day to use all 5 of your sense and allow yourself to become present and in the moment. Be present and aware as you are looking at the leaves change and noticing the beauty of colors, smelling the scent of warm coffee on a chilly morning, listening to holiday music in stores, tasting your Thanksgiving meal, and feeling the snow gently landing on you. There is a lot to enjoy with seasonal changes if you take the time to look for it.
Staying active during the winter months is one of the most challenging things for people. With the days being shorter and colder, the idea of going outside and going for a walk or run can seem unappealing. However, as many of us already know, staying active can improve mood in a significant way. Finding a new enjoyable way to stay active in the winter can have a major impact. Whether this is taking a new class that you’ve never tried before, or staying warm in hot yoga, finding an enjoyable way to exercise during the colder months can be a beneficial step in beating the blues. Starting an exercise routine in the fall and maintaining consistency during the winter is a great way to prepare for an active lifestyle year round.
Another major difference between the warmer months and winter months is that people tend to want to avoid the cold and stay in a lot more often. Isolating yourself during a time that can already be challenging for you generally ends up with a decrease in mood. Make an effort to stay engaged in social activities this winter. Make plans with friends to get together at someone’s house, or take advantage of the holidays and do something seasonal that is only available during the winter. Whatever it is that you enjoy about these months, do it with enjoyable company. Identifying activities or programs and scheduling them or signing up for a class now can help maintain social interaction during the winter.
Reach out to Support System
If you are having a difficult time this winter, do not hesitate to reach out to those around you. People tend to be pretty understanding that this time of year can be difficult for some. Chances are, there are others that feel very similar to you. Helping to cheer each other up can help put an end to the winter blues. If it becomes too difficult, reach out for professional help. Learning the necessary skills needed to cope can make a world of a difference.
Bianca Marcu, LPC