Overcoming Winter Blues

A family savoring the outdoors in winter, capturing the essence of overcoming winter blues by finding joy and connection in the seasonal beauty.

What are Winter Blues?

As the days become shorter and there are less daylight hours, you may find yourself feeling down. Approximately five percent of Americans face seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression triggered by the change of seasons. Even if you do not face SAD, it is still very common to experience some feelings of sadness, especially if you live in regions further from the equator. These milder feelings of irritability, loneliness, and fatigue are commonly referred to as the winter blues.

What Causes Winter Blues?

A decrease in sunlight shifts your biological clock, which regulates your mood, sleep, and hormones. This adjustment in your schedule alone can make you feel out of sorts. Sunlight also affects your natural production of serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin, a chemical that affects your mood, is boosted by vitamin D. When there is little to no sun to help produce vitamin D, this deficiency may cause you to feel sad. Melatonin affects your sleep patterns as well as your mood. The lack of sunlight causes your body to go into an overproduction of melatonin, which is why you may feel sleepier during colder months.

How Can I Overcome the Winter Blues?

Luckily, there are things you can do to help minimize the feelings of sadness during the winter months. First, get as much vitamin D as possible. Go outside while the sun is shining, and if you live in an area where this is not possible, then try to eat foods that are higher in vitamin D such as salmon, tuna, milk, yogurt, and eggs. You can also take vitamin D supplements.

Next, create a routine that involves interacting with others to stay motivated and inspired. Volunteering enables you to give back to your community as well as be inspired by people who spend their time doing something kind for others. You may also want to consider searching for support groups in your area to connect with others who may be facing similar challenges.

It is normal to prefer to stay indoors and not be social when it is cold outside, but maintaining relationships with your friends and family will help you feel less alone and improve your mental health. Set aside a little bit of time every week to talk with loved ones and say yes to any social invitations.

Depending on where you live, the weather can severely affect your day-to-day life, including access to transportation. Heavy snow may affect the reliability of public transportation in your area or eliminate the possibility of walking. If your city or town does have public transportation, make note of the schedules and add extra time to your commute to take weather delays into account. If you do not have access to public transportation and the weather makes walking unsafe, try reaching out to your community of friends and family to see if you are able to carpool with them to work, school, or meetings with your officer.

If all else fails, ask if you can attend your commitments virtually. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.

Seasonal depression affects millions of people around the world, and an even larger number are affected by mild symptoms. You may find that some of the challenges you face post-incarceration may worsen during the winter months. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of sadness, seek professional help.

Published On: December 14th, 2022|Categories: Mental Health & Wellness Resources|

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