Say Goodbye to Winter Blues

If you are like me, my least favorite month of the year is February. The days are short, it is frigidly cold, and there are days when I feel as if I am not getting enough sunlight or exercise.  For most people, this is a minor concern since February is a short month, but for others, the cold temperatures and the lack of sunlight can be quite debilitating.  Winter Blues is the less serious consequence of seasonal changes. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is the more life-altering condition.  Both are more common than you might think.  Overall 6% of people in the United States have SAD and the “winter blues” affects 14%. Some of the common symptoms include a persistent low mood, a loss of interest in normal activities, irritability, and fatigue.

There are small steps we can take to assist with our mental health and wellbeing during the winter months. Here are a few suggestions:

1.Open blinds and curtains when possible for natural sunlight. If your office or dwelling is particularly dark, a SAD lamp can help. The bright light from the lamp can affect hormone levels, which positively affects one’s mood.

2. Remember to Eat Well. It can be tempting to indulge in too much coffee and foods high in sugar. Overdoing it on sugar and caffeine can lead to a lower mood in the long term. Healthy snacks such as fruit, yogurt or mixed nuts can help to maintain a balanced diet.

3. When it is dark and cold outside, the last thing I want to do is get involved in physical activity. But exercise can significantly increase energy and concentration levels, especially during the winter months.

If you would like more information about the “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the Bellevue University Library has some wonderful articles listed below:

Davis, A. (2019). The winter blues. Norfolk Magazine, 247, 113.

Deering, S. (2019). Beyond the winter blues.  At the Lake, pgs. 90-92.

Galima, S.V., Vogel, S.R., & Kowalski, A.W. (2020). Seasonal affective disorder: Common questions and answers. American Family Physician, 102(11), pgs. 668-672.

Godwin, D., & Cham, J. (2017). Winter blues. Scientific American Mind, Vol. 28(1), 76.

Groth, J. (2020). Beating the winter blues. PN, 74(1), 31-36.

Haskins, J. (2019). Seasonal affective disorder: It’s more than winter blues.  The Nation’s Health, Vol. 49(1), 24.

Knopf, A. 92018).  The winter blues: Real depression or down in the dumps?  Pay attention, whatever it is.  Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, Vol. 34(2), 9-10.

Source:  Metro-Sanchez, A. (2019). Seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues: How the time of year may be affecting you and your patients. RDH, Vol. 39(2), pgs. 28-29.

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