As I mentioned in Part 1, the good news about Seasonal Affective Disorder and the good ole' fashioned winter blues is that both are easily treatable. This post includes 6 starting points to boost mood in the winter months, but there are many, many more ways to effectively deal with a winter slump (whether it's SAD or not). As expected, I have to preface this post by saying that if you've read this and think you might have SAD, it's vital to talk to a doctor or a therapist for a proper evaluation. (Just to be clear, this post doesn't count as consulting with a professional.)
Ok, now lets get to what to do about the winter blues:
1. Turn the lights on. Does the only glow in the room come from the TV, your phone, or the computer screen? Not good. Light a candle, pull the shades wide open, turn on extra lights in your home. Light therapy is an actual thing and choosing the right light box for you can be surprisingly effective.
2. Exercise. I know it’s annoying to hear this as a suggestion because everyone already knows that exercise is generally helpful, but even just doing 10 mins of exercise in the middle of your living room changes your brain chemistry and can boost your mood. Need a song for when you’re trying to work out and it’s super boring? Listen to this.
3. Color your life. Colors can carry an unexpected but strong impact on appetite, mood, ability to focus, a person’s sense of calm, etc. Ever wonder why the McDonald’s golden arches are warm gold instead of a cool blue? Consider painting a certain wall in your bedroom or a specific space in your home a bright color as a post-Thanksgiving tradition. If you’re not really a DIY person, it’s all good. Get a pretty mug for winter tea, order a color pop via pillow shams for the sofa, place a bright, warm throw in an easily visible place in your home-- there are lots of easy ways to infuse mood-boosting color into your day.
4. Get chatty with your doctor. Doctors are generally extremely helpful people who want to help you to feel better, but they’re not mind readers. Talk about how you’re feeling. Ask about how vitamin D and melatonin supplements can impact mood. Both are thought to improve circadian realignment (a major factor in SAD). Your doctor can also discuss other supplement remedies and medications that might help boost your mood, depending on your needs.
5. See a therapist in the winter. If the winter is extra rough for you for whatever reason, get a little extra support. I see a lot of clients who know the winter is not their best season emotionally and come in to see me for three months or so of 'booster therapy,' which always strikes me as so self-aware and positive. I’m especially reminded of #5 in my ten tenets here.
6. Take a walk. I know it’s cold, but get some cute mittens and button up! Even if it’s not sunny outside, you’ll get more light than being inside, and light is one of the biggest factors in the winter blues.
Even if you're able to manage your SAD and/or winter blues well, there will naturally be times when you'll want to decompress without doing anything that's actually restorative. For those times, I wrote a Part 3.
Know someone who likes lists? Does that certain someone also get a little bummed in the winter? Share this post!