I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets cold, it gets dark earlier and the sky is gray more days than not, I find myself getting a little bit down.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as “seasonal depression” or “seasonal blues” is a health condition that occurs during seasonal transitions, typically starting in the fall and getting worse in the winter. Symptoms may include a lack of energy, overeating, or feelings of sadness and irritability.
If you’re like me and miss the sunshine, water and warmth of summer, here are some things you can do to offset the seasonal blues.
1. Manage sleep
Wanting to sleep is probably the most common of my symptoms. I love taking naps anyway, but I find myself especially drawn to cozying up under a blanket on the sofa when the weather is cold and dreary.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a nap unless it impacts your sleep at night or keeps you from getting done what you need to do during the day.
The best way to stay on an ideal sleep schedule it to recognize how much sleep you need, then create a routine to ensure you get it. Most people need seven and a half to nine hours of sleep to feel fully rested, although college students can get away with as few as six hours of sleep a night. Once you’ve determined how much sleep you need, do basic math regarding when you need to wake up, then set a consistent bedtime routine that will have you in bed and asleep at the necessary time.
Go ahead and take a nap if you aren’t getting enough sleep and you can. But don’t nap just because you have the desire to hibernate.
2. Listen to music
I wish you could hear me singing in my car. I’m seriously a rock star. No one has ever sounded so good.
I’m glad you can’t see me dancing around the kitchen. That would be embarrassing.
Music improves mood and is an effective way to fight off depression by regulating your emotions and improving your mindset. Consider listening to music in your car, while you do chores or exercise, or even while you work, if you can do that and still concentrate.
3. Go outside
When it’s cold, it’s cold, and I’m not going outside either. But make it a point to spend time outside on the more pleasant fall and winter days.
Taking a walk can boost your physical and mental health, reducing seasonal depression symptoms and improving your overall mood.
Sometimes I find that I feel better just going outside with the dogs for a minute or walking to the mailbox. Bundle up and enjoy that walk to class when you can.
Most people exercise less in the winter because they aren’t able or willing to do so outdoors. Pushing yourself to continue a winter exercise routine will give you more energy and help keep you from gaining weigh during the colder months.
5. Spend time with friends
You may have to force yourself to leave you house, but spending time with friends will put you in a better mood. Commit to lunches or outings with friends. Put them on your calendar and keep those dates.
6. Work publicly
One way to counter some of the depleted energy and desire to do things that comes with seasonal depression is just to get out of your normal routine. Don’t work at home where you are tempted to take a nap or in a dreary academic building or library. Instead, go to a coffee shop were the background buzz and amazing smells will help you focus and be productive.
7. Cozy up
There’s nothing wrong with giving in to your natural desire to rest. Put on some comfy pants, make a nice cup of tea and curl up with a good book. Enjoy the seasonal change and the perks that come with it, like all of those hearty, yummy soups. Just don’t fall in to the habit of doing this every day at the sake of other things you need to get done. The important thing is that this behavior is a choice, not a method of avoidance.