For many people, the cold winter months bring an onset of what is described as the winter blues. The colder, darker winter months can cause a change in our moods and our behaviors. Some examples are sleeping more, becoming more irritable, eating more, and avoiding friends or social situations.
Dr. Emma Seppala, Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project at Yale University, offers these tips for beating the winter blues:
- One great way to connect to others in the winter months is to volunteer, at a shelter, a food bank, a nursing home, or at an after school program.
- Another way is to stay active. Join a fitness class. Invite some friends to go on a walk or meet at a gym to shoot some hoops.
- Practice mindfulness activities, like yoga or meditation, to help center your thoughts and help you to relax.
- Be present in whatever activity you are engaged in. Turn off the cell phones and focus on where you are and who are you are with.
- Curl up with your loved ones (spouse, childen, grandchildren) under a warm and cozy, blanket and read a book or watch a funny movie.
- Eat healthier meals and take time to eat at a leisurely pace.
If you find that the winter blues are interfering with your daily activities for a period longer than two weeks, please consult your family physician or a mental health professional. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that is categorized as a type of depression and occurs during months where individuals have less exposure to natural sunlight that can be treated with appropriate medical help.
Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County, Ohio State Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed By: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fayette County, Ohio State University Extension, email@example.com
Sepalla, Emma M. PhD, “3 Definitive Ways to Beat The Winter Blues”, Psychology Today. Web January 20, 2016 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201601/3-definitive-ways-beat-winter-blues
Roecklein, Kathryn A., Rohan, Kelly J., PhD, “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview and Update”, Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2005 Jan; 2(1): 20–26. Published online 2005 Jan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004726/
“Information from Your Doctor: Seasonal Affective Disorder”, American Family Physician. 2000 Mar 1;61(5):1531-1532. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1531.html