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Tips for Dealing with the "Winter Blues"
January 26, 2011

It’s not uncommon to feel sad, irritated or less energetic during the winter months. For some people, these are manageable ups and downs that come with the changing seasons. Others may be dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that may require lifestyle changes or professional support to overcome.

Below are some tips that any of us can use to raise our spirits during the winter months.

Keep Active:
On cold, dark days, it can be hard to pull yourself out of bed. But it’s important to keep moving and active. Keeping up with work, school or social obligations gives you momentum and focus that can make it easier to weather the tough days. Exercise has also been proven to reduce symptoms of depression and make you feel better. So hit the gym or set aside some time for exercise or yoga at home.

Lighten Up:
Winter has its share of dark, gloomy mornings, but turning on your lamps and overhead lights can help lift your mood. Some people in particularly dark climates even invest in a light box or special lamps that mimic natural outdoor light.

Focus on the Positive:
It’s so easy to focus on the negative, but taking stock of the positive can greatly improve our perspective and mood. Take time each morning or night to write down a list of positives or things you are grateful for. If you’re comfortable, you can post your gratitude list on Facebook or tweet out one of your “positives” to inspire your friends and family.

Talk About It:
One of the best ways to feel better is to open up and talk about how you’re doing. If you’re feeling blue or having a hard time getting motivated, talk to a friend about it. Most likely, they have felt or are feeling similar and you can help each other along by trading stories and tips. If your sadness or lethargy is continuing over days or weeks, or making it hard for you to function, consider reaching out to a counselor or other professional who can help.

Treat Yourself:
In some locations, the weather keeps you homebound for a good part of the season. Just because you aren’t going out as much, doesn’t mean you can’t plan activities and have fun. Plan a movie night for yourself or a group of friends. Indulge in a hobby or start a project. Instead of feeling “trapped” inside, make a list of things you enjoy and find ways to engage in those activities.

Below are some signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you think you or someone you know is dealing with SAD, it’s important to speak up or reach out to a mental health professional who can help create a plan for overcoming the depression.

Click here for information on getting help on campus.

Click here for information on getting help in your community.

Signs & Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

• Depression
• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Loss of energy
• Changes in appetite or sleep
• Weight gain or loss
• Hopelessness
• Trouble concentrating

Click here for more information on SAD from NAMI.
 

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