Mornings that are dim, evenings that are darker, and chilly gray days in between. Ever wish you can hibernate through the dreariest season of the year?
Some specialists say that about 20 percent of Americans fall victim, although estimates vary. This isn’t a surefire indication of seasonal depression (the more serious condition, also known as seasonal affective disorder, exclusively affects about 2 percent of Americans and is characterized by feelings of hopelessness and despair), but that does not mean you should brush off your blah feeling.
“Feeling blue to get a period of time is just not, per se, ordinary,” says Jacqueline Gollan, PhD, associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “When folks feel blue, it’s a sign that something in their own life desires consideration.”
This winter, get your hands on these poor-mood zappers:
Getting at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity four times a week has been shown to reduce depressive mood, says Dr. Gollan. “And there are a number of ways to get exercise,” she points out. If that’s what it takes to keep you warm, get a gym membership and working out, but you can also try riding your bike or running along the stairs.
2. Your alarm clock. Tempting as it may be to sleep in on dark mornings, it is better to stick using a regular sleep schedule — which means waking up at precisely the same times on weekdays and weekends. Establish a routine wake up time as well as a soothing bedtime ritual, and if you are not already in this custom, let three or four weeks to get used to it, proposes Gollan. Also, make sure your sleeping area is free of distractions that are noisy, somewhat cool, and comfy.
3. A couple laugh-out-loud films. Specialists think that laughter really excites processes in your brain that counter depressive symptoms. And since chuckling is completely contagious, you can invite a couple of pals over to share the popcorn.
4. Hot chocolate. It’s advisable to make a number of tweaks to your diet during winter months, says dietitian nutrients that could reduce your blues.
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Kleiner also recommends eating fish (particularly oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids) three to five times a week; plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and a minumum of one egg (with the yolk) each day, preferably for breakfast.
5. A crown that is hostess. ‘Tis the season to deck the halls and host a modest seasonal celebration. This will give you something to anticipate — and it could set you on other people’s invitation lists (more entertaining for you personally!). On a cautionary note, however, Gollan says that “long-term interpersonal hassles do increase perceived pressure.” So if there’s a relationship in your social circle or family that is an ongoing supply of anxiety, give yourself a gift and work it out (ideally before the celebration).
6. A mop. It Is vital that you build activities into your day (even chores like cleaning the floor) which will provide you with an idea of competence. Balance the hard work with small items that bring you pleasure, like treating yourself with fresh flowers or, yes, that home made cup of hot cocoa.
7. A finished to-do list. Groan! But what this actually means is to complete the company do it on time and you must take care of. “Behavioral activation is a crucial strategy,” says Gollan. Opt to prevent procrastinating like invoices that are outstanding, on the unpleasant stuff that could only snowball into more stress afterwards. Get the tools you want to get organized.
8. A one way ticket to your staycation destination. Most people get a lift when they’ve something to enjoy. If your co worker’s coming Bermuda holiday has you dreaming of traveling, Gollan says you can avoid spending cash but still get an increase by planning mini-getaways closer to home. You may not possess the vacation days to get a truly rejuvenating vacation or the budget, but nearly everyone can love an afternoon ice skating with friends, taking a special holiday season tour of a nearby town, or going into a concert.
9. Imitation sunlight. It Is dark when you leave for work and dark when you get home, so where are you going to get your daily dose of natural sun? In case you possess the flexibility, schedule in an early-morning walk or lunchtime stroll. Should you do not, consider this option, which is particularly beneficial for people with full fledged seasonal depression: a full-spectrum light box. Light therapy was proven to work for a broad range of mood disorders, not only SAD. Nonetheless, warns Gollan, these are actually quite powerful tools (and expensive!) so you actually should work using a doctor or mental health professional who can help you on when during the day to make use of it (and for how long).
10. A physician’s appointment. “Blues could be part of some other system,” points out Gollan. Chronic pain, headaches, sleep disorders, and sometimes even heart disease are all linked to depression symptoms, so check in with your physician to ensure you are solving the right problems to treat your winter blues.