Beat Those Winter Blues!

For many, the winter blues seems to creep up almost immediately as the excitement of the holidays is quickly replaced with cold, gray, short days. As the temperatures plummet so can our moods, energy, and motivation. This can leave us finding ourselves needing to put extra effort into maintaining our mental and emotional health this time of year.  Check out these tips for beating the winter blues:

Exercise

Physical activity is proven to relieve tension and stress, boost energy, and enhance feelings of happiness by releasing endorphins. Finding the motivation to exercise, especially during the winter, can be challenging for many. Choosing a physical activity you enjoy will help you find the drive to create and stick to an exercise routine. Click here for some mood-boosting workout suggestions.

Meditate

Many studies suggest that mediation is beneficial to physical, mental, and emotional health by reducing stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Fortunately, as the popularity of the practice grows, many tools have been made available to mediation beginners. Click here for free online meditation courses and here for a list of some of the best mediation apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Brighten Your Surroundings

Opening blinds and curtains or using sheer window treatments can help fill your home with as much natural light as possible. Sitting closer to windows when you can also helps provide an extra dose of sunshine. Filling your home with plants, flowers, and pleasant-smelling candles and/or air fresheners can add a spring-like vibe to your surroundings.

Stay Social

Winter blues can also cause us to veer towards isolation. A relaxing evening at home can be a great way to de-stress after a long week. However, be sure to stay connected to friends and family, as numerous studies have shown that social support directly impacts psychological well-being. The benefits of being around those that recharge you and bring you happiness outweigh the inconvenience of bundling up and forcing yourself to brave the cold for a night out.

Stick to a Schedule

A recent study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry discusses the importance of resisting the urge to hibernate due to shorter days and sticking to your regular routine. Keep your sleep schedule the same and find ways to continue your regular activities. If you usually exercise outdoors throughout the year, continue this by wearing multiple layers of clothing, taking up an activity such as skiing and snowboarding, or finding a replacement indoor exercise for the winter.

Create Anticipation

Plan something to look forward to such as a mid-winter vacation, night out with friends, home renovation, or spring garden. Anticipation can sometimes increase happiness more than the experience itself.

Start a Winter Project

Accomplishing any goal gives a burst of dopamine, the brain chemical that allows us to feel pleasure. Start an ongoing winter project such as creating a scrapbook or redecorating your living room, which you can work on during the extra time you may find yourself at home this season. No big project in mind? Crossing items off of your to-do list, even something as small as cleaning out your junk drawer, can give you that sense of achievement.

sad_snowman_by_animejunkie106-d4ijz0nMake a Book and Movie List

With more time indoors, let yourself indulge in the books and movies you’ve been meaning to check out. You can even make it an opportunity for socialization by hosting a movie night for friends or starting a book club.

Embrace Winter

Embracing rather than resisting winter is helpful for some to fight off winter blues. Try changing your mindset to indulge in the positive aspects of the season, such as curling up by the fire with a good book, snow days home with the family, and activities such as skiing and ice-skating which you can only enjoy this time of year.

It is important to pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling. If symptoms you experience feel like more than just the “winter blues” and are causing disruptions in your daily life, it may be time to seek professional help. To find a treatment provider, visit SAMHSA’s Behavioral Treatment Service Locator here.