Winter Blues? It’s a Thing

It sure is “a thing” around here. Sometimes it’s just a bummed out, blah kind of feeling. But for other people it’s a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that usually begins in the fall and continues through the winter months.

SAD is common where I live due to the shorter days and a whole lot of grey, overcast or rainy days. Dark, cold, and rain for days on end seem to be the perfect recipe for SAD.

If someone is already dealing with depression, anxiety or grief, then this seasonal loss of light can be particularly challenging.

The American Psychiatric Association reports that roughly 5% of the U.S. population struggle with it. A current theory is that SAD is linked to changes in the brain caused by less light which disrupts a person’s circadian rhythm.

Many of my clients talk about having SAD and want tools to cope with it. I’ve put together the following list of suggestions based on three decades of listening and helping people cope with these winter blues.

It helps to have a plan and to use it.

Here are some things for you to try:

1. Get enough sleep.
2. Have your Vitamin D levels checked and supplement if needed.
3. Keep your body moving. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Dance in your living room.
4. Get a light therapy box with 10,000 lux. Sit in front of it for 20-30 min every morning.
5. If the sun comes out, change your plans and get outside in it.
6. Spend time in nature even if it’s rainy and cold.
7. If you can’t find sun, go find snow in the mountains. It’ll lighten things up for you.
8. Taking a winter vacation? Go where there’s sun.
9. Meditate.
10. Be intentional about spending time with your friends. Love is a different kind of light.
11. Get a sunrise alarm clock.
12. Watch for cravings for carbs, sugar, alcohol. Your body is looking for dopamine.
13. Get bodywork like massage or craniosacral.
14. Acupuncture.
15. Yoga. Qigong. T’ai chi.
16. Energy work.
17. Get a pet. Walk your dog.
18. Watch utube videos of giggling babies or people laughing.
19. Make a playlist of songs that lift your mood. Listen to it.
20. Do something that makes you happy.
21. Make something. Make art. Make chicken soup. Just make something.

This is my working list? Got any of your own to add? Please share.

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