Tis the season for dark afternoons and blustery weekends. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or just find it hard to stay motivated through the winter. Here are some tips to find the light in what can be a dark couple of months-literally!
Get up and Move
Exercise releases endorphins and Dopamine which increase feelings of happiness and lower fatigue. It can be difficult to keep your activity levels up once the cold weather hits. Here are some tips to get moving in the winter months:
– Find an indoor activity like swimming, going to the gym, or rock climbing to replace summer outdoor exercise.
– Build in exercise around or after dusk to combat the early sunset.
– Bundle up and take a walk outside for some fresh air.
Practicing gratitude can inspire positive thoughts, strengthen relationships, and improve mood.Here are a few ways to incorporate gratitude into your life
– Note one good thing that happens each day, mentally or on paper.
– Write letters of appreciation to friends to let them know you value them.
– Keep a daily gratitude journal to record things you are thankful for each day.
Winter months can lead to isolation and loneliness. Finding social support can help improve mood. Here are some ways to stay social in the winter:
– Find an online community to engage in without having to face the cold.
– Meet up for warm treats like coffee or soup to warm the soul while you catch up.
– Plan phone or video hangouts when the weather makes it hard to plan outside activities.
Soak up the sun
Find ways to increase exposure to natural or artificial light in order to regulate your circadian rhythm. Here are some adaptations to make to your winter routine:
– Buy a “happy” or white light to help keep your circadian rhythm on schedule.
– Wake up earlier to get more sunlight in your day.
– Keep lights on later in the evening or open the blinds to let all the light in that you can.
Making adaptations to decrease SAD symptoms can be difficult. A therapist can lead you through the process in a personalized way. One-on-one therapy or group sessions are a great way to manage mood symptoms through the winter.