As I looked outside this morning through my glass window, I realized we couldn’t avoid it that the day gets shorter, sun sets earlier at 4 in the afternoon, and people tremble from the ice cool temperature or what the Germans call here ‘‘arschkalt’’. When I enter or sit in the train, I couldn’t help but observe my surroundings, all I could see are grey. Grey or dark jackets, and grey atmosphere.
Coming from a sunny country is not an exception that I would be free from Seasonal Affective Disorder or people call it Winter Blue. Studies shown that 57 percent of individuals have worse moods during winter than in summer.
We may not be able to hinder how the nature changes during winter time, but there are ways to overcome these cold months of November until February. Working in a medical field I know how this season affects my patients and their mood, especially to the elderly people who have higher tendency to have low mood regardless of the season. So, if you’re suffering from this winter blue or anyone in your family, I have listed some interventions in which you wouldn’t need prescription from your respective doctors.
- Be active
I know, some of us (sometimes I) would love to hide under our covers and cocoon our pillows, but no matter how comfortable that idea is, we should minimize being alone and hide ourselves in this cold season. In the city where I live, I was told that there are clubs (no, not nightclubs) wherein one can join just to occupy oneself and keep oneself busy than staying at home all day. Speaking of joining a club, you could meet other members, for example in a dance club, and get socialized. In that case, you wouldn’t be alone, you’ll be social and active too. (I’m considering joining one too…hmmm maybe writing club.)
If joining some clubs like painting or writing clubs is not a cup of your tea because it’s too passive, why don’t you try sweating yourself in a gym? If you don’t like spending any dime, just wear your running shoes and your sports attire, go out, inhale and exhale, enjoy the beauty of nature how it changes and appreciate it however. Try making some brisk walk, if you feel like it, go for a sprint. Later on, you wouldn’t realize you’re enjoying it already.
Escape winter. People do it a lot during this season. My colleagues at work have already planned their vacation ahead. Some embrace it as it is and stay, but some get away from it. They travel to countries, which provide a bit of warmth and entertainment. Some getaway places that I often hear are Canary Islands or anywhere in Spain, Portugal, Thailand or anywhere in Asia.
3. Eat well
We all know we need sun to activate Vitamin D in our body, and this vitamin is essential in regulating our mood. During this season, some people turn to replacements like supplements. Some of my patients take 20000 units in a week and it improves their mood. Omega-3 is also beneficial in boosting our mood and is said to have an anti-depressant effect. However, you don’t have to take these supplements if it’s not really necessary, what you need are the lists of foods which are rich in Omega-3 like fish, dark leafy vegetables like spinach, and walnuts.
It’s cold outside, and you thought of staying at home with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer to get some warmth. In case you don’t know it, alcohol is a depressant, so think about how many glasses you want to consume, or better, nothing at all, if you’re already feeling low.
4. Set your mind right and meditate.
Sometimes, it’s all in our mind. True, there are risk factors which cause depression from the environment like the season itself, but with the right mindset we could overcome it. We should accept how nature works and look forward to the next season. Think of winter as a dormant time to spend it with loved ones in a cosy warm home or with friends discussing how you could make the best out of winter time instead of being frustrated how cold the weather is. Influence others with your right mindset, enjoy winter and don’t treat it as a curse from nature. Anyway, aren’t you looking forward to experience white Christmas? 😉
There are also studies that shown how meditation increases activity in one part of our brain which is responsible for happiness and lowers stress. So, if you think going to the gym is a bit of a luxury or a waste of time, you could do some meditation instead at the comfort of your home, and it helps to treat this seasonal disorder.
I hope you get some ideas on how to avoid or manage winter blues. Before diagnosing yourself that you have it, assess yourself first. There are checklists that you’ll find online to know if you have Seasonal Adaptive Disorder or acquire knowledge by researching and reading about the disorder. Depression is a serious matter and it should be dealt professionally. If you think you have already a severe depression, seek help professionally or discuss it with your loved ones or someone closest to you. Observe everyone in the family, be with each other and be a support person for one another. Nothing is better than knowing that you are not alone, and you don’t have to carry the burden all by yourself.