As the weather gets colder and daylight gets shorter, many are feeling the effects of seasonal sadness. And, with daylight savings time right around the corner, these feelings are certainly going to intensify. Whether you deal with seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder, or just notice yourself getting sadder in the colder months, there are some things you can do to help mitigate those feelings. Here are some tips I have found useful and others professionals recommend.
Take Vitamin D Supplements.
Because the sun is out less in the winter, and because it is too cold to be outside when the sun is out, your body begins to lack vitamin D. In fact, it is this lack of vitamin D that contributes to feelings of tiredness, lack of motivation, and even depression. Other symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness, loss of appetite, not sleeping well, and even hair loss. You can find vitamin D supplements at Target, Walmart, and other drugstores, but it is important to check the ingredient lists as some vitamins can have harmful ingredients.
Order a Light Box
Another way to try to counteract the loss of sunlight is to order a light box. Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that sitting in front of a light box for 20-30 minutes a day can help to relieve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. In addition, you can also get an alarm clock that mimics the sunrise when it wakes you up. I have linked examples of these products below.
Take Advantage of Available Daylight
Because daylight is so limited in the wintertime, it is even more important to take advantage of the sun when it is out. Whether that means sitting in a room filled with natural daylight or going on a mid-day walk (if it isn’t too cold), getting sun exposure is important to maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D which will help for mood stabilization. Even though this sounds counter intuitive, waking up early can help fight seasonal affective disorder as you can maximize your hours with sunlight.
On the topic of getting outside and improving your mood, it is very important to get exercise even in the colder months. I get it. Darkness and cold are not a good combo for workout motivation. However, if you can overcome those obstacles and get a workout in, your mood will greatly improve. Winter is the perfect time to try at-home workouts like yoga. In addition, booking workout classes like pilates or spin will keep you accountable for getting in a workout. Working out with a friend is a great way to stay accountable as well as social.
Romanticize the Winter Season
Though this is certainly easier said than done, sometimes we get so wrapped up in the loss of sunlight that we forget about the good things about winter. For some people, winter is associated with Christmas, Hanukkah, or the holiday season, which brings plenty of joy. So, consider decorating or shopping for gifts when the sadness is hitting hard. Winter is also a great time to try new indoor activities. Instead of spending time outside around dinner time, try curling up with a book, binging a show, or playing cards or board games. Spending time with friends, especially when doing winter activities, is a great way to romanticize the season to forget about the sun going down.
Talk to Someone
Even though this might seem self explanatory, talking to someone about how you are feeling during these colder, darker months can help you feel better and process your emotions. Consider talking to a trusted friend, chances are they are feeling some of the same things you are. While feeling a little sad come winter time is completely normal, it is important to remember that if your sadness persists, gets worse, or you feel like there is nothing you can do to improve your mood, talking to a therapist or counselor is a crucial next step.
As the fall winds down and winter approaches, seasonal sadness is preparing to rear its ugly head. While these feelings are completely normal, it is important to try to combat them to remain happy and healthy!