Now that the holidays are over, it’s not uncommon for many people to feel sad, lethargic or listless. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 20 million Americans have some degree of seasonal affective disorder, and such depressive episodes tend to occur around this time of year. The good news is there are a number of ways you can kick the winter blues. Here’s a look at six:
1. Eat smart
Stay away from the likes of candy and carbs, as studies show they’re more likely increase anxiety and depressed feelings. Instead, stick to healthy foods and treat yourself to chocolate – which can improve your mood – in moderation.
2. Plan a Vacation
Even if you don’t take the vacation until the spring, just planning and booking something to look forward to down the road can go a long way toward boosting your overall happiness.
3. Brighten Your Surroundings
Decreased daylight is a big driver of seasonal affective disorder. But if you expose yourself to about a half hour of bright, non-UV light every morning, you can help curb symptoms. Light therapy boxes and dawn simulators are two things you might want to give a try.
4. Stay Active
Join a gym or brave the cold to go for walks around your neighborhood –just try to stay active and on the move. Exercise can play a big role in boosting mood.
5. Take Up a New Hobby
Periods of decreased daylight and cold weather are a perfect time to learn something new. Things like joining a book club, keeping a journal, learning a musical instrument, knitting or painting can keep you busy and offer new enjoyment.
Volunteering doesn’t just help improve the community that you live in, but helping others can also help improve your mood and mental state.
The winter blues are no fun, but it’s important to realize two things about seasonal affective disorder. One, you’re not alone, and two, you can take action to kick depressive symptoms. The above six ways that we’ve outlined are a great start.