Yes, I know. It’s a dark season and many suffer from seasonal affective disorder. You know, that dreaded winter depression that comes on when days are short, dark comes early and it’s sooo cold outside. It’s real and there’s some real science behind ways to avoid winter depression.
By all means, if your doctor thinks you need anti-depressants, take them. But if not, here are some simple but helpful things you can do that are non-invasive and don’t involve putting chemicals in your body. They’re worth a try.
Get some sun.
Here’s a fact: Only 1 percent of Florida residents get that winter depression, which (in part) led scientists to conclude that sunlight would be a good treatment. But in some parts of the country winter sunlight is hard to come by. That’s why many physicians prescribe sunbox lights as treatment. They feature special fluorescent tubes that mimic beneficial sunlight. They really are the go-to treatment for those with winter depression, even if it’s a mild case. Recommended dose is about 30 minutes of exposure first thing in the morning. That timing is important to keeping your body clock on a springtime cycle, which combats depression. Lots of science behind this. You can find these for under $200 and it’s an easy treatment. Put the box on your desk in the morning or even at your kitchen table while you have your coffee.
I get this. I’m pretty cheery most of the time, but maybe that’s because from age 21, I’ve always lived in sunny climates. I’m not so sure I’d be a great candidate for the weather in Seattle or even my hometown of Rochester, NY.
How many times have we been told that moving helps depression? Moving as in get thee to a gym, walk the dog, do some cardio. Exercise: another easy, non-invasive treatment to avoid the winter blues. (Or as I spell it sometimes or even do it, exercuse.)
Take a walk outside.
Yes, I know. It’s cold. Bundle up, slip on your gloves and hat, wrap a warm scarf around your neck and get outside to breathe some cold, crisp air. Especially if the sun’s out. It works. Fresh air. Mmmm!
Visit with friends
Combat the winter blues with a tea date with friends. Or lunch at a favorite restaurant. Even better if there’s a lot of cheerful buzz in the place. Just hanging out with people we care about can be part of a simple treatment plan.
Do something good for another
Psychologists have long prescribed volunteer work as a treatment for the doldrums. Funny how stepping out of yourself and doing something good for someone else can help banish winter depression.
Start a project
Winter’s the perfect time to distract yourself with that project you’ve been meaning to start. Learn Zentangle. Take up a craft. Do something that will take time and attention away from feeling down. (Don’t mention my raw silk project, though. Unless you want to do it for me.)
Avoid carbs and sugar
So many reasons to do this, but a diet change like this can help you avoid winter depression.
Brighten your space
Take it from me. It’s harder to be depressed if your environment is bright and cheery. Paint, bright artwork, fun throw pillows–you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to get the effect.
Plan a vacation
Is there any better way to cheer yourself up than to plan a break somewhere fun? Winter’s a great time to plan that vacation or weekend away.
If you can, head to the sunshine in the winter. I know plenty of residents of the northeastern U.S. who do this every year to get some warmth and light.
So, what works for you? I’d love you to share in the Comments so everyone can benefit. Thank you!