The Quick Report

7 Actionable Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s difficult to assess how many people are affected by the so-called “winter blues.” First, it’s not a concrete medical condition. There is no clinical diagnosis for it. Nonetheless, it is characterized by any one of several signs that occur during the winter months.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the “winter blues” is fairly common and is characterized by any of the following signs:

  • Feeling or being less energized
  • Feeling more down than usual
  • Being less interested in activities one usually enjoys

Being that the winter blues is not a recognized medical condition, an accurate measure of how many people it affects is unknown. However, estimates suggest somewhere between 10-20 percent of American adults experience some level of seasonal mood changes.

Read More: Easy Tips to Avoid Catching Seasonal Bugs

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that causes some people to experience a serious mood change when the seasons change, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is a much more serious type of mood change as opposed to the “winter blues.” The symptoms are more severe.

For those affected by SAD, their symptoms begin and end at about the same time every year. Typically, the start is in the fall and continues through the winter months. Symptoms commonly resolve during the spring and summer months.

Symptoms of SAD

  • Feeling listless, depressed, down, or sad most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish
  • Having problems with sleeping too much
  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating, and weight gain
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live

Symptoms Specific to Fall and Winter SAD

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

Read More: 16 Interesting Facts and Findings about Happiness

7 Actionable Steps for Beating the Winter Blues

Here are 7 actionable steps you can take to help yourself overcome the feelings that seasonable changes bring to cause the winter blues. It’s all about taking action!

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1. Boost Your Mood With Natural Hot Cocoa

Another thing Winter brings is chilly temperatures. Prepared the right way, warm cocoa can help with mood and relaxation. This will prepare you for getting a good night’s sleep.

Make your hot chocolate with real, natural cocoa powder. It’s high in mood-boosting flavonoids. It’s also heart-healthy.

For extra health and relaxation benefits, prepare your hot chocolate with fortified milk which provides vitamin D, protein, and carbohydrates. This combination helps increase serotonin levels, which aid in relaxation.

2. Create and Stick to a Sleep Schedule

The darker mornings and darker evenings can throw off one’s sleep schedule. Plus, the dark mornings have a natural way of making us want to stay in bed.

Creating and sticking to a sleep schedule can help build a routine regardless of the shorter hours of light. A schedule is important for ensuring you get enough hours of sleep. A routine will help you reset your internal clock to feel tired and energized at the right times.

Fatigue from a lack of sleep can add to feelings of listlessness. It’s hard to get motivated when you’re tired. Guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep every night for overall health. Eight hours is even better.

3. Get Exercise

Winter can also make it harder to exercise, especially if you’re someone who prefers to exercise outdoors. However, your body needs exercise to stay healthy and function properly. Aim for at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity four times per week. Studies show this level of exercise reduces depressive moods.

Despite winter conditions, you need to find a way to exercise, whether it’s indoors, outdoors, or both. You may want to consider a gym membership, even if it’s only for the winter months.

Another option is to purchase exercise equipment that would allow you to exercise indoors, such as a stationary bike, exercise bands, or dumbbells. You can also get a good workout doing floor exercises on a mat. Push-ups, planks, squats, lunges, and more can get your heart pumping.

4. Set Manageable Daily Goals

Having a goal or task to accomplish daily can be highly motivating. Achieving that goal also brings a sense of accomplishment. Therefore, set a goal for each day that you can be sure to achieve.

We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. For most of us, that reason is we have to go to work. However, this goes away on days off. The winter blues can make us want to stay in bed.

Give yourself a goal you are excited about accomplishing. One that will make you want to get out of bed and get going. Doing something that’s both fun and meaningful is even more powerful. According to research, it’s been well-tested and is one of the most effective ways to alleviate depression.

5. Watch Comedy Shows and Films

A familiar, time-honored adage is “laughter is the best medicine.” According to experts, laughter stimulates processes in the brain that counter depressive symptoms.

An easy way to stimulate laughter, especially if you live alone or spend a lot of time alone at home, is to watch comedy TV shows or films.

However, positive companionship is also an important component of promoting mood elevation. Therefore, invite some friends over to watch some funny shows with you. Laughter is contagious.

6. Host a Holiday Party

Another mood booster worth trying is hosting a holiday party. A party gives you something to prepare for and look forward to. It also presents an excellent mood-boosting opportunity.

However, the first rule of thumb is not to stress. Don’t plan to get together that is so extravagant it’s going to put pressure on you or become overwhelming.

The second rule of thumb concerns who you add to your invite list. If there is any person within your social circle that would create stress, you may want to consider not inviting them. However, this may not be easy if it is a family member. If that’s the case, try to work out issues before the party. Ask them to be on their best behavior.

7. Take a “Staycation”

A “staycation” is a vacation spent at home. It can also involve taking “a break” somewhere nearby. 

Taking a break somewhere nearby could be trying out a new restaurant or going to a tourist destination near you you’ve never visited. It could be going to a concert, an afternoon ice skating with friends, or treating yourself to a day spa.

Even if spent at home, a staycation represents a “getaway” from your typical routine. That’s the most important part. Doing something enjoyable. It’s about giving yourself an escape from anything that may be adding stress or bringing you down.