Monday, January 6, 2014

Dealing with the Winter Blues!

Do the Winter months get you down?  Do you find yourself more sad or less active during the winter not because its cold but because you have less drive or ambition to do anything?  Do the dark days make you feel depressed?

Well if this sounds like you, you could potentially be suffering from SAD which stands for Seasonal Affect Disorder or the winter blues. Normally in the winter it is dark like 24 hours a day 7 days a week with little to no sunlight (well not really but it feels that way) and it takes a toll on your mood and overall state. A medical or mental healthcare professional can help diagnose you if you are suffering from SAD's.  However there is hope and things you can do to help you elevate your mood!

Exercise! That's right you heard me! Get up off your butt and go workout.  Go for a run, walk or hit the gym.  Hell if its to cold outside, then workout at home in front of your TV.  If you own a gaming system now-a-days, you can even workout with it while game!  Point is do something that naturally raises your serotonin levels in your brain that will help to lift your mood and make you happy.

Getting Out! Yes while I will admit lately as NYC people say "its brick out there" (cold) that should not stop you from seeing your friends or going out and doing something.  The longer you stay at home with your curtains drawn and by yourself the harder it is to elevate your mood.  So go out with friends, see a movie, read a good book at your favorite coffee shop, or watch some tv at your friends place.  Do something that will motivate you to get out of the house or at least out of bed.

Eat Good Food! Don't sit at home eating high calorie high fat foods.  This only affects your mental state even more and adds to your winter blues when you realize that you are gaining weight.  Make sure during the winter you are eating good wholesome foods rich in complex carbs, Omega 3 and loaded with vitamins and minerals needed to keep a proper body and mind fit.

Beside exercise, eating good food, hanging out with great friends and doing other things that could lift your spirit, I recently came across this handy invention that has shown scientific proof to "lift your mood".

Its called a Happy Lamp :-) Also known as light therapy. 

Light therapy uses a special lamp (happy lamp) with a very bright fluorescent light (10,000 lux) to mimic light from the sun.  Since light is absent a lot during the winter months this lamp helps to bring some of it back in your life.  You simply use it once a day for 15 minutes.  You can use it in the morning while you are eating breakfast to save on time.  You simply put it on the table next to you, plug it in, turn it on and let it shine on you for 10-15 minutes.  Once you are doing eating, you turn it off, put it away and go about  your day.  You can also use it at night.  Its whatever works best for you.

Finally, if all else fails, you may consider getting therapy.  While SAD might not be a year around depression, nonetheless it can affect you greatly during the winter months.  Moreover, for those who only suffer from the winter blues but do not meet criteria for SAD, therapy is still beneficial.  Therapy isn't only for those who are considered "crazy" (as Hollywood likes to portrait it) or the insanely rich in Beverly Hills.  In therapy, your therapist can go over your current mood with you and see what can be done in order to help you cope during the dark winter months.  Some of the things mentioned above might work for you and others not so much.  Nonetheless, your therapist will evaluate you and see what type of treatment and resources are needed that can be tailored to you.  Therapy is for anyone who needs/wants it for their life.  For many, therapy is covered under their insurance plans or potentially their government benefits.  If you feel that you might benefit from therapy, then I would suggest you look into this for your better well being.   

So if you think you might be suffering for SAD's or just the blue due to the gloomy days, then go ahead and do something that could help to lift your spirits. While they say the winter only really last 3 months (but if you ask me, it feels like half the year!) no need to go those three months in a dark gloom.

So go ahead and try some of the suggestions mentioned above and see if they work. Before you know it, you will be feeling bubbly all over again, and then its summer and time to break out the sunscreen! Just make sure its UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum SPF 30 and up protection :) 

Keep Smiling!

DISCLAIMER: While Dayana is a Psychotherapist based in Toronto, she is NOT your psychotherapist. Please speak with your doctor or mental healthcare professional about any and all concerns you might have in regard to your mental or emotional states.  These are simply suggestions that you can do which you can talk to your mental healthcare professional about if they feel they are right for you.

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