Shorter days, less sunlight, cold weather and the end of the holiday season are often a recipe for the winter blues – a fairly common and non-medical diagnosis that bring on feelings of sadness. The good news is that while you may feel a bit gloomier than usual, the winter blues are temporal and we have some great tips to help keep you smiling through the next couple of months!
1. Let in the Light
Open up your curtains and let in the light! The sun provides a natural source for us to obtain vitamin D, which is known for mood regulation and helps combat depression. The best time to take in the winter sun is midday for 15-20 minutes. There are also several light therapy lamps on the market that can help boost your mood. We recommend speaking with your doctor before purchasing any artificial light sources to help ensure their effectiveness for your specific needs.
2. Create a Routine
Establishing a routine for all of your activities, including sleep, is a great defense against the winter blues. A set sleep schedule will help you from oversleeping and feeling sluggish. Once awake, keep a schedule in mind for the rest of your day – from meal times to exercise and everything in between, routines help us feel more in control of our everyday life, keep us motivated and reduce feelings of anxiousness.
3. Keep Active
Staying active is one of the best ways to ward off the blues and there are plenty of ways to do so, both indoors and outside. On the coldest days when you find yourself indoors, consider stretching or lifting light weights for 15-20 minutes per day. If you don’t have light hand weights, soup cans make a great substitute! Integrate outdoor activity on the milder days – dress in layers and take a short walk, the fresh air will raise your oxygen levels and elevate your mood!
4. Food for Thought
Enjoying a well-balanced diet not only boosts your mood but your energy levels also. Swap salty and processed snacks for nutrient-dense foods that are rich in vitamins, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, non-fat and low-fat dairy, fish, lean meats, nuts and legumes provide plenty of variety to keep you healthy and happy!
5. Adopt a Plant
Plants provide beauty, can reduce stress levels and help eliminate harmful toxins in the air by releasing oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide. With those great benefits, the only decision you have to make is what plant is best for you! Sansevierias, commonly known as snake plants, do not need a lot of light or water and are a great introduction to houseplants. These evergreen perennials can grow anywhere from eight inches to 12 feet high and have colorful variegated spear shape leaves.
6. Become a Volunteer
Volunteering provides a sense of purpose, helps you to connect with new friends and invites positivity into your life. Simply put – we feel happier when we give back. Our hospice service lines, Good Samaritan Hospice and Concordia Hospice of Washington, offer a variety of volunteer opportunities that can be performed either in-person or from the comfort of your own home.
The winter blues can affect us all – please know that if you share any of the feelings described in the article that you are not alone. If your sadness persists, you become concerned about your well-being or your symptoms keep you from living a healthy life, please consult with your healthcare professional.
Related: Tips for Conquering Seasonal Depression During the Pandemic
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