Winter may be beautiful, but there is no getting around the fact that it can hit some of us a bit harder than others. The fact that it is rapidly advancing on us means that more and more of us are starting to deal with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As amusingly appropriate as the acronym for the disorder is that doesn’t make it any less true. The best way to think of it is as a symptom of changing brain chemistry caused by the lack of standard light levels. Your brain needs to be registering a particular amount of light and warmth to produce the appropriate levels of serotonin for you to be fully active and engaged in your life. Without them, things begin to drag. Frequently people with SAD can become depressed, irritable, or more prone to anxiety. Any one of these can make it difficult to function and, sadly, many people with SAD express more than one. There are ways you can work to brush away the blues though and many of them are quite simple.
Smiling can go a long way towards helping ensure your mood is better than you think, but that isn’t the kind of advice most of us want to get when we’re feeling down. You might want to invest in a sun lamp instead for the winter. These lamps provide the kind of light exposure, when used properly, necessary to help counter the lower serotonin levels. Think of it as manually hacking your brain so that it does what you want.
Warmth Is Your Friend
Do your best to ensure that where you are is comfortably warm. Winter for a lot of us means that we’re dealing with cool air getting into our homes one way or another. There are few things quick so demoralizing as that sudden chill when you’d rather it not be there. Heats and fires in the fireplace can go a long way towards keeping you warm, toasty, and happy.
Winter is a time of subdued colors. This doesn’t sit well with a lot of people and sticking to the convention can actually end up hurting your mood. Embrace vibrant colors over the course of the winter. The colors we’re around and wear do appear to impact our moods to a degree. Favoring brighter ones will help keep you centered and less moody.
Make Time For People
There’s a lot of evidence that many fall and winter gatherings that survived to the present day are connected to far older holidays. These holidays frequently had and retain an element of togetherness. We all know that winter is hard on us in a bone deep understanding that goes beyond words. So take refuge with friends and family during winter and enjoy their company. It will help keep your spirits up.
Plan For Warm Days
Interestingly enough, you can hack your brain in other ways to fight off the blues. Much like window shopping can give us a little retail therapy even if we don’t buy anything, you can plan a vacation to somewhere a little warmer and brighter over the course of winter. The act of doing the planning and reviewing things actually gives your brain a boost.
This is one of the last things most of us want to do when we’re feeling sluggish, but it honestly is one of the best things we can do for ourselves when we’re fighting back the blues. Exercise does a lot of things for a body that are good. It helps us manage our weight as well as releasing more serotonin into our brain over the course of the exercise. The problem is simply finding a place you can comfortable exercise in winter.
Sing It Out
You don’t necessarily need to actually sing away the blues, but the truth is that music is a potential potent ally in brushing away the blues. Music, for those who like it, has been repeatedly shown to help boost overall sense of mental well-being. There is a catch here though. You need to favor brighter, cheery music if you want the best bonus here.
Get To That Rainy Day Pile
We all set aside bits of media, whether those are books, movies, or games, for the proverbial rainy day. A lot of us have trouble actually getting to that pile though. After all, the rain doesn’t stop us from needing to work or finish our personal projects. You can do a lot for your mental health if you’re willing to make the time and indulge in the collected things you’ve kept meaning to get to for a while. After all, you cared enough to set them aside for later.
Eat For Joy
Eat chocolate. Seriously, it will do you some good. Chocolate is associated with a better mood as well as anxiety management. It is a wintertime ally for getting out from under the blues. Other foods are too though. Lean protein like fish and sources of vitamin D like milk, eggs, and also fish can go a long way towards helping keep your mood up.
Distracting yourself and becoming engaged in something can also do your mind a lot of good when fighting back the blues. Some experts suggest that using winter to learn a new skill or picked up an old hobby to improve can do a lot for your brain. It makes your brain active and working. The little triumphs along the way can give your brain a little extra boost too.
Wintertime blues are a real thing that a lot of people have to deal with regardless of whether they have SAD or not. After all, we all have brains with a similar basic structure. SAD is simply a more severe form of what happens to all of us. If you feel your mood going down over the next few months, try to remember these tips so that you can still find a way to enjoy your winter.