With the twinkling lights and colorful decorations of the holiday season packed away, and the realities of the new year setting in, it can start to feel like there’s not much to look forward to until spring returns. When it gets dark so early and dreary winter weather has you trapped inside the house for days, it’s easy to develop a sense of cabin fever – but you could also be one of the millions of Americans with a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder.
What can you do to keep your mood on an even keel and continue to make progress toward your mental and physical well-being while you’re counting the days until spring? Here are our top suggestions.
Though you may find it harder to muster up the motivation to work out during the winter months – especially if you prefer to exercise outside – exercising is one of the best ways to fend off depression. If you’re new to fitness, or if you are getting back into a routine after taking a few months off, start small, and gradually ramp up the intensity. This steady approach helps you avoid both burnout and injury.
2. Get Sunshine
Though there isn’t as much sunshine in winter as there is in the other seasons, that doesn’t mean there won’t be an occasional sunny day. When you soak up the sun’s rays, your body produces vitamin D, aka the “sunshine vitamin,” in response. Some studies have also suggested a connection between vitamin D and an improved mood among people living with depression, so the next time you see sunshine in the forecast, plan to spend a bit of time outdoors.
3. See a Therapist
Another thing you can do if you’re feeling symptoms of seasonal depression is to talk it through with a licensed therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that can be especially beneficial for people living with mood disorders such as depression. A therapist who specializes in CBT can help you learn to replace negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors with positive thinking and actions.
4. Take Time to Do Something You Enjoy
Having daily, weekly or monthly appointments to meet friends for lunch, join a yoga class, do a guided meditation, get a massage or practice a creative hobby can give you something to look forward to, which can help lift you up when your spirits are low.
5. Eat Balanced Meals
If depression has you in its grip, you may find yourself lacking an appetite, or eating a steady diet of high-calorie comfort foods. Proper nutrition can help you defeat the winter blues. Try naturally mood-boosting foods such as whole grains, leafy green vegetables, lean proteins and fresh fruits to bounce back from seasonal depression.
Regain Your Physical and Mental Well-Being
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