Some people love the dreariness of winter, and they thrive off those rainy days spent cuddled up by the fire. However, for a good majority of us, the lack of sunshine can cause a decline in our mood.
It may seem like it’s just in your head, but many people experience mild seasonal affective disorder, the onset of sadness due to the winter months.
The winter blues occurs for various reasons, including lack of sunlight, post-holiday depression, or sometimes even changes in habits, such as lack of exercise. Feeling moody in the winter months can be extremely frustrating, but luckily, you’re not doomed to depression just because the sun sets at five pm.
If you’re someone who feels glum December through February, consider these six scientifically-backed ways to beat the winter blues.
1. Expose Yourself To More Light
Since much of the winter blues is attributed to our natural changes in circadian rhythms, it makes sense that we can combat that affect by exposing ourself to more light.
Sitting in a bright light box for 30 minutes a day has been found to be as effective as antidepressants in fighting off winter depression, according to Harvard Health. Spend as much time as you can outdoors and as little as possible in the dark.
2. Increase Your Vitamin D
Since your skin probably isn’t seeing as much light, it may be helpful to supplement your diet with some vitamin D. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging found that people who took vitamin D supplements showed improvement in their symptoms seasonal depression.
It can be tempting to want to stay curled up on your couch all of winter, but inactivity can only exacerbate your negative moods. An abundance of studies show that exercise is an effective treatment for depression.
It can not only help boost your mood in the short-term with its rush of endorphins, but it helps improve symptoms of depression and anxiety over the long run by changing your brain structure.
After the rush of the holiday season ends, many people get back into their grind and begin to experience feelings of loneliness. Social isolation only tends to make depression worse, so it’s important to spend time around friends and other support groups that can help tackle that holiday comedown.
5. Plan A Vacation
Not only will spending some much-needed time on the beach help you load up on some sunlight, but planning the vacation itself can boost your levels of happiness. Just try to stick to somewhere stress-free, and you can reap the emotional benefits of planning for up to eight weeks!
6. See A Therapist
Even if you don’t have these feelings all year round, talking to someone about your winter blues can be an effective way to manage how you’re feeling. A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that cognitive behavioral therapy was just as effective as light therapy at reducing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder; in fact, the results lasted even longer.