There are so many fun things to do in the winter that aren’t available to you in the summer. Going skiing, taking a walk during the first snowfall, curling up by the fire. There is a sort of magic to winter. However, after some time, being cooped up inside can start to feel like a drag. During January or February, it is common for people to start to experience a little off, and many say they stop feeling like themselves. If you are in a similar boat, you’re not alone.
These feelings are common across the United States, but even more so in the North. The winter blues – or seasonal sadness – is mild and temporary and usually ends on its own. With the shorter days and the cold temperature, many people experience changes in their daily routine that contribute to them feeling off. People often report that during the winter it is harder for them to focus and feel motivated, and there are oftentimes disruptions in people’s sleep routines that also throw them off. While all of these are common, there are some things you can do to help you get back into the groove of feeling yourself again.
During the winter, you may not be eating as much fresh produce or spending as much time outside as you do in the summer. This can lead to a deficiency in essential vitamins that your body and mind need. It is no secret that Vitamin D tends to be the main vitamin that people lack in the winter, and this deficiency can cause a lack in other areas. Both serotonin and melatonin, hormones that our bodies naturally produce, are directly linked to the amount of vitamin D we consume. So if we aren’t consuming enough vitamin D, we are likely also having issues with our sleep routines and happiness levels. Try to include a vitamin D supplement every day to ensure you are getting the recommended amount that you need throughout the winter.
Have a Sleep Routine
Our sleep is key to having a good day, but the change of daylight and the longer nights often disrupt our sleep patterns. Because the amount of daylight changes, we also need to change our routines. Going to bed at a consistent hour, developing a wind-down routine, staying off electronics, and avoiding afternoon caffeine are all ways we can improve our sleep during the winter months.
Studies show that 30-60 minutes of exercise a day during the winter dramatically reduces your symptoms of seasonal sadness. Even more impressive is that getting outside for even a couple of minutes also has the same positive effect on the body. Taking walks, seeing sunlight, and breathing fresh air are all ways to keep your spirits high during the depths of winter. Plus, getting out of the house and doing things is also a way to keep you motivated to do things that you usually do in your daily routine. The more consistent your routine is throughout the seasons, the better.
Maintaining a social life during the winter can be hard. After work or school, you probably feel more exhausted than you would normally during the summer, so finding the energy to be social is challenging. But it is important to keep up with your loved ones, even if it looks different than it would in the summer. Making dinner, doing a puzzle, playing a board game or going for a short walk are all simple activities that fill us up during the winter. Friendships are necessary for the health of people, so reach out to friends and family and set up a time to get together. Plus, they can also be a shoulder to lean on during these winter months and act as a support system to process your emotions.
Dive into Your Hobbies
New studies are showing that picking up a hobby is linked to beating the negative side effects of the winter blues. It encourages us to have something to look forward to and allows us to concentrate on something other than our feelings. So if you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to learn more about homemade sourdough bread, now may be your time! Find something you are interested in, and spend time learning it and practicing it.
Winter Blues vs Seasonal Affective Disorder
The winter blues are incredibly common and are usually not serious. However, this is different from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a more serious mental health issue that may need to be treated by a professional. If you’re feeling especially off for an extended period of time and can’t seem to have any moments of joy, talk to your healthcare provider about potential ways to start feeling like yourself again.