The winter storms of 2014 have been rough, and the storms have brought on the winter blues for many people. The weather has affected everyone across the country. Droughts, flooding, and record breaking winter storms are occurring in almost every corner of the US. January brought wildfires to California, while the east coast dealt with electrical outages due to cold and ice. The extreme conditions can leave everyone anxious. In the colder climates families are cooped up during dangerous snowstorms which have left many people dealing with cabin fever, and depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a depression that happens mostly during the winter months. A common theory is that a lack of sunlight may be a factor in Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD. It is believed that a lack of sun can affect the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a natural chemical that has a calming effect and staves off anxiety. Without a proper dose of serotonin we run the risk of depression, fatigue and anxiety. Light box therapy and medication has helped many cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD is just one reason of depression during the winter months. If cabin fever, boredom, or the cold is the problem, then there are many alternatives to getting out of a funk.
Overdose on natural sunlight. Natural sunlight is a great mood booster. Early morning walks on sunny days or just opening the window shades first thing can greatly improve a person’s mood for the day.
Get out of the house. It is easy to want to burrow under the covers when it is freezing outside, but socializing is a good way to win the war on the winter blues. It is the perfect time of year to connect with old friends via phone or lunch date. Good conversation and laughing with friends is a natural mood lifter.
Embrace the snow. No need to literally embrace the snow, but taking up a winter sport such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling or ice skating could make the winter months a lot more fun, and something to look forward to every year.
Go to the gym. Getting the heart rate up is a natural way to get that serotonin working again. Joining a gym or taking an exercise class helps raise those serotonin levels, not to mention an excuse to get out of the house.
Create projects. Setting goals gives focus and redirects your mind towards something more productive than wallowing in the winter blues. Winter storms can fuel cabin fever, so why not decorate, paint the walls, check things of the ‘home repair’ list. Accomplishing goals brings great satisfaction to the day and keeps the mind occupied.
Reward oneself for getting through. Rewarding a job well done is always a mood lifter. Treats do not have to come by way of food, it could be a trip to warmer climates, a pair of new shoes, or a night out with friends. Surviving a winter storm is a perfect reason to treat oneself.
Avoiding the winter storms may be impossible but getting over the winter blues can be done. It just takes a few small steps to redirect patterns and make the best of an unavoidable situation. The longer depression lasts the harder it is to get out of it, so starting on winter activities early in the season will result in success.
By Christina Thompson