Winter blues is another name for seasonal affective disorder (the appropriately acronymed, SAD). This is a real form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern spanning the darker, shorter days from late autumn to early spring. Having some tips for beating winter blues during this time, when sunlight is scarce and your energy levels have dropped significantly, can be essential for maintaining balance in your emotional, mental, and physical health.
When it comes to figuring out how to avoid winter blues in your own life, know that SAD can be treated with antidepressant medications, as well as through talk and light therapy. Symptoms may improve naturally as the seasons change, but there are actionable things you can do to avoid winter blues. Here are some clever, modern tips to beat winter blues this year.
1. Go Deeper with Podcasts
Diving deep into a podcast series as a way of invigorating your mind and learning something new (about the world and/or yourself) might just be how to avoid winter blues and emerge on the other side with a newfound passion! Whether it’s the fascinating history of Ivy fashion and style through the brilliant Articles of Interest Podcast with Avery Trufelman or one of the best outdoor podcasts today, being entertained through podcasts when the skies are dark and the weather is cold, may be the bridge you need to reach springtime in good spirits.
2. Start a New Skin Care Routine
Taking care of yourself though a skin care routine is one way you can avoid winter blues. Spending each evening washing, treating, and moisturizing your face and skin could also make you feel good about yourself and more confident in your appearance. This activity can be done solo or with a partner as a way of bonding with the ones you love. There are many fantastic skin care products designed especially for the unique needs and chemical makeups of men and women. So, guys, don’t think this is just for the ladies in your life — your skin deserves to be cared for too!
3. Foster a Shelter Animal
Spending time caring for another living thing is not only adorable and rewarding, but also one of the tips to beat winter blues! When you foster a shelter animal, you are making a short-term commitment (as little as a few weeks) to nurture, feed, cuddle, and teach that animal what it means to be loved and how to play nicely. The immense joy that comes from knowing you have helped an animal be ready for their forever home will surely go a long way to helping you avoid winter blues.
4. Go Fishing
You may have put away your fishing gear for the season but having fun with your favorite hobby is one of the best ways for how to prevent winter blues! Whether you spend a weekend in nature, go ice fishing or just take a long lunch break on a sunny day to be along the water with your line in, get outside and discover the mental health benefits of fishing.
5. Focus on Your Sleep Patterns
When it’s dark before dinner time, and the weather is frigid, the urge to curl up under the covers earlier and earlier is hard to resist. One of the tips for beating the winter blues is to focus on your sleep patterns and find activities to engage your mind and body in the evening, to keep you awake until a proper bedtime, thus helping you sleep through until morning.
6. Get Physical!
Starting an exercise routine you can easily stick to is one of the best ways for preventing winter blues. This could mean that you join a local gym with a pool to swim laps, go hiking, lift weights or simply take daily walks around your neighborhood. The idea of being physical may seem counterintuitive if your energy levels have already dipped in winter but moving your body and working muscles can actually GIVE you energy and lift up your mood.
7. Start a Gratitude Journal
It may not seem like much, but taking a few moments every morning or evening to slow down and reflect on the simple joys of the day can go a long way toward helping you avoid winter blues. There are many free gratitude journal apps which make starting a habit of jotting down the things you’re thankful for each day a breeze.
8. Soak up the (Limited) Sun
Fresh air and sunshine can help you feel refreshed, so plan to soak up as much of the sunlight as you can while it is in short supply during the winter. One of the indoor tips for beating the winter blues is to invest in a sunlamp with light bulbs that mimic the sun’s helpful rays and provide some of the same essential vitamin D.
Check out these additional 5 outdoor activities to help with your mental health.
If hiking during the colder months and these other tips for beating the winter blues aren’t working for you, reach out to a medical professional for help. There may be additional therapies and medications that could work for you as you avoid winter blues this year.