This time of year a lot of us feel down and out after the holidays are over and we’re looking at months of winter ahead. About 5% of people actually have seasonal affective disorder, a kind of depression that’s triggered by the change of seasons. But even if you don’t officially have that, the dark, cold months can leave us feeling low, so try these tips from Dr. Barbara Nosal, chief clinical officer at Newport Academy, to battle the winter blues.
- Get your heart pumping - Exercise is always important, but staying active this time of year can help you fight off the winter blues. Dr. Nosal says 30 minutes or more of daily exercise increases the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and social behavior, along with sleep, appetite, and memory, which contribute to a balanced mind and body.
- Make your house smell good - Essential oils can be a powerful way to perk up with scents. Not sure where to start? Different oils have different effects, Dr. Nosal suggests citrus-y oils for energizing and scents like lavender for calming and soothing.
- Open your blinds - Spending time outside helps regulate hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood and behavior, but harsh winter weather keeps a lot of us indoors a lot this time of year. But you can reap the benefits of sunlight by letting the natural light into your place by opening the curtains and blinds in the morning.
- Or rely on fake light - A light therapy box that gives off light that mimics natural sunlight can help “naturally stimulate the body’s circadian rhythms and suppress the release of melatonin,” Dr. Nosal explains. She advises exposing yourself to about 30 minutes of natural light a day.
- Find a therapist - Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you brainstorm practical solutions for your problems, so it’s less about stopping the winter blues from happening and more about learning how to cope with the symptoms.
- Find time to do things you love - It’s easy to want to spend the winter hibernating on your cozy couch, but spending time with friends and doing hobbies and activities you like fills our creative, intellectual, and social needs. And all of that helps build self-confidence and fights off the winter blues, so don’t bail on your next happy hour invite.