The holidays are over, the weather is chillier, and the days are short. While Seasonal Affective Disorder is a more severe depression that some people deal with during the winter months, many others notice that during this time of year they are simply less energetic, less motivated, and overall just don’t feel their best.
While we can’t change the seasons and the weather, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from the “winter blues” –
- Make an effort to see the sun. Shorter days mean that many go to work in the morning when it is still dark, and by the time they leave the office the sun has already set. Sunlight is vital not only for an uplift in mood, but also for the absorption of important vitamins and minerals in your body. Try to take a walk outside at lunch, or spend an hour or two outdoors on the weekends whenever possible. Even just sitting near a window in a sunbeam can have positive impact. If the real thing is not an option, consider investing in a sunlamp that would allow you to get your daily dose of vitamin D without even having to leave your house.
- Drink plenty of water. This one applies year-round, but particularly when trying to recover from illness during cold and flu season, to detox from overindulging in food and drink over the holidays, and to combat fatigue.
- Up your exercise. When we are less able to spend time outside, many of us notice a drastic decrease in the amount of time we spend doing active things. Joining an intramural team, using a gym membership, or taking a fun exercise class can be an enjoyable way to build in some activity. Even simple things like taking the stairs at work or walking around an indoor mall can be helpful. Exercise creates endorphins, and combats chronic fatigue, and so can be an effective guard against slumps in mood.
- Find ways to give back. It is tempting to hole up on the couch when it is dark and chilly outside, but committing to an activity that you value is a great way to break up the monotony. Finding an opportunity to volunteer for a cause you believe in, or getting more engaged in your church or school can be fun ways to take the focus off of yourself and give back to others.