Eight Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Winter blues are a real thing. It’s not something that affects everybody {ugh, those lucky winter-loving jerks}, but for many, it’s a very real, very dreaded thing that occurs during the winter months. 

It might be beautiful, but winter can sure do a number on your mood! Global Dish - Stephanie Arsenault

It might be beautiful, but winter can sure do a number on your mood! Global Dish - Stephanie Arsenault

Depending on where you live, and how the light and temperatures change from season to season, the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder {appropriately called SAD}, can vary from mild to severe. Luckily, there are some things you can do to ease the symptoms. 

Here are eight ways to help get you out of a winter funk:

1. GET SOME SUN Easier said than done, right? During the winter, the days are so short, and nights so long, even if there is some sun shining, your schedule might not allow for soaking up some rays. In fact, for many people at this time of year, it’s dark out when they go to work, and dark when they go home; making it nearly impossible to get some real sunlight. Luckily, this is one situation where you truly can “fake it ‘til you make it” with a light therapy lamp. These lights used to be tough to come by, but now you can purchase them easily and at a variety of price points. I use a Verilux HappyLight, and it does make an incredible difference in energy levels, and, if used properly, helps to regulate sleep. 

2. GO OUTSIDE Yes, even if it’s cold out, just bundle up and get out there. Go skiing, go for a walk, strap on some snowshoes, or even just plant your arse on a bench and sip on a mug of hot cocoa. Fresh air does the body good. In many Nordic countries, parents will put their children outside in their strollers for naps; of course, they’re dressed for the temperature, but the cold air seems to improve their immune systems and help them sleep. If it doesn’t hurt infants, a little fresh air sure as hell isn’t going to hurt you.

3. COZY UP After you’re done chilling out {ha! See what I did there?}, throw on your comfiest clothes, a nice, thick pair of socks, brew up a cup of tea or coffee, and light a candle. Grab a book, do a puzzle, watch a feel-good movie – just relax and enjoy yourself. There’s a reason that hygge has been so popular over the past couple of years: coziness promotes contentment and well-being, and at this time of year, we could all use a little {or a lot} bit of both.

4. DISTRACT YO’ SELF It’s just as exciting as treating yo’ self, but it doesn’t sound nearly as cool. When you’re dealing with all of these shitty feelings {melancholy, fatigue, sadness}, it’s easy to get caught up in them. This, my friends, is where distraction comes in. Take a class. Learn something new. Knit yourself a scarf, paint a picture, or learn how to bake something delicious. The pleasure will come from the process, and you’ll get extra joy out of the final result and the knowledge that you’ve accomplished something concrete, no matter how big or small. Let those little feelings of happiness and that sense of accomplishment take over those crummy emotions, even it is for just a little while. 

5. SWEAT IT OUT Exercise is an antidepressant. Yes, strong statement, but it’s true. It’s good for your body and your soul, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than drugs or therapy. Of course, it’s not a substitute for professional treatment, but if you can muster up the energy and motivation to work out, you will notice a big change in how you feel, for the better. I’m not saying that you should go for zero to a half-marathon or anything, start small and work your way up. Begin your day with some stretching. Go for a walk. Take part in an online yoga challenge. Think of how you’re feeling and what you’re willing to do, and then push yourself just a little bit further. 
6. WAKE UP Regulating sleep patterns is a crucial part of staving off SAD symptoms, and this not only means getting enough sleep, but making sure you don’t get too much of it, either. Wake-up lights are helpful, as they simulate sunrise with a gradual increase in coloured light and natural sounds. I use the Phillips Wake-up Light, and it works like a gem. If staying awake during the day proves to be difficult for you, you can turn the light on to its brightest setting, and it will help you keep your energy levels up. 

7. GET YOUR VITAMINS Symptoms of SAD can result in wonky appetite changes; you may be more hungry than usual or have no appetite at all. Eating healthy, regular meals can help manage your symptoms, and prevent nutritional deficiencies that lead to new or worsening systems. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, which is tough to do at this time of year, and stock up on omegas as well, as they’re vital for brain health. Chat with your doctor or a pharmacist to figure out which supplements are best for you. 

8. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY While many people do experience some form of SAD, for many, it can be as intense as full-blown depression. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing more than occasional, manageable symptoms, get in touch with a health professional as soon as possible. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious issue, and if you need help, get it. 

8 Tips to Help You Beat the Winter Blues - Global Dish - Stephanie Arsenault

8 Tips to Help You Beat the Winter Blues - Global Dish - Stephanie Arsenault