The excitement of the holidays has passed, but the shorter days, and the cold, gloomy grey weather is going to stick around for a while. Unfortunately, the lack of sunshine can significantly affect some people, causing an unusual lack of energy, fatigue, mild depression, and it can negatively impact their ability to concentrate and get a good night's sleep. Adults as well as children can be impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and although it does not affect everyone, if you or someone in your family is facing SAD challenges, it can be difficult for other family members as well. It is important to work together to try to combat some of these feelings.
Below you’ll find a list of activities that the whole family can enjoy this winter, but more generally, professionals suggest a few activities that can help. Socialization with friends and family members offers the opportunity for distraction and to talk about the blues, which can help to heal. Throw open the curtains, go outside, find sun whenever possible. Become active and move to increase the endorphins and boost the mood. Make an upbeat playlist, turn on that music, and get creative with a new project or try out something new. Try to embrace the low-key days with immersion into extreme comfort. Turn on a favorite movie, enjoy a mug of hot chocolate, cuddle up under a warm blanket, and enjoy some planned cozy time.
Key during these low periods, is exposure to the sun and to bright lights. If indoors, move the chair closer to the windows as any increase in sunlight will help. Also invest in a light box, which will simulate daylight and help to boost your mood. Thirty minutes a day should do the trick! If it’s a sunny day though, get outside!
Watch what you’re eating as well. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limit carbs like cookies or white bread, which can make you feel momentarily better but will make you feel more sluggish with the inevitable blood sugar crashes. The good news here though is that dark chocolate has been shown to improve moods and help relieve anxiety, so go ahead and enjoy a bit of the dark stuff.
As mentioned above, you need to get moving! Best plan would be to exercise for 30 minutes, but even a 10-minute walk or dance around the living room will help.
Volunteering also has a direct impact on improved mental health and the feeling of satisfaction that helps self-esteem: help out a local group, clean out a closet and donate unused clothing, go to a shelter and help to walk the dogs. Also, consider helping out an elderly neighbor or a family member who has a project that needs to be completed. There are endless ways to generously donate your time and energies to the benefit of others.
Regardless of who is struggling with the winter-time blues, there are small things that can be done to help ease the discomfort.
Be strong – Spring is on it’s way!