mood lifting

Don’t let dark clouds get you down: 7 ways to deal with seasonal blues

Both rain and winter can have adverse effects on your mood. But the good news is that you can tackle that by following these simple yet effective steps.
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The mention of winter evokes several associations. Cold nights, Christmas, warm clothes, your cosy bed, and perhaps, Game of Thrones too. But do you know that winter also springs the feeling of sadness and depression? According to a study by Sherri Melrose, Associate Professor at Athabasca University, Canada, “As sunlight decreases during the short dark days of winter, many individuals struggle with seasonal affective disorder or SAD.”

Your body’s internal clock takes time to adjust when it’s winter. Due to lack of sunlight, your mind releases melatonin, the sleep hormone in a higher quantity that makes you feel tired and lethargic. It’s not just winter, however, that turns the day all gloomy and grey.

Rain can have the same adverse effects on your mood. A WebMD blog reveals the findings of a survey, which states that “nearly 9 percent of people fall into the ‘rain haters’ category. This group feels angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation.”

However, the good news is that it is possible to tackle seasonal affective disorder. You can begin by acknowledging the influence of seasons on your mood. Once you have done that, the next step is taking the requisite action to prevent season affective disorder from spoiling your mood in the rainy and winter seasons. To make things easier, here are some ways that can help you deal with the winter blues.

Let there be light

Even though winter and rainy days limit the exposure of sunlight, you can still use artificial light to uplift your spirits. Don’t sit in the dark when it is all cloudy outside. Switch on the lights even if you feel tempted to curl up in your bed and sleep. According to studies, exposure to blue light can stimulate the secretion of dopamine and serotonin that can elevate your mood.

Julia Samton, MD, a psychiatrist at NYC’s Manhattan Neuropsychiatric who offers light therapy in her practice, adds another step to this advice. “I encourage people to really try to make sure they walk outside, even when it’s cold and rainy,” she told WebMD. “Even though it might not seem that light out, you’ll still get some exposure to UV rays, which can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and boost your mood.”

Do something fun

When it’s raining cats and dogs, any plans to go outside get washed over. But this shouldn’t stop you from making plans at home. Bring out the board games from your closet if you have your siblings or friends to play with you. Or pull out a book from your library if you’re alone. If clouds have camped outside for an entire day, and you have already played the games and read the books, you can run a movie marathon. You can do several things instead of stressing over the weather. So pick up something and don’t let the rainy or winter blues crash your party.

Connect with friends

If you live by yourself, long rainy and winter days can make you feel lonely and low on energy. You may feel like you have run out of ideas and you don’t feel like doing anything. Especially when the weather makes you dread the thought of going outdoors, you can stay indoors and connect with friends to lift up your spirits. Pick up your phone and drop a text to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Or catch with your friends in a group chat and share some laughs.

Embrace the sunshine

Seasonal affective disorder can make you feel sad. It also brings feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and dullness. Even if there isn’t enough sunshine during cold and rainy days, try to soak in the sun as much as you can to brighten up your mood. According to Tri-City Medical Center, “Getting some sun increases your serotonin and helps you stave off SAD and sun exposure can also help people with anxiety and depression, especially in combination with other treatments.” So, as soon as the sun comes out, step out from your home and bask in the sunlight.

Check your vitamin D levels

Vitamin D—also known as the sunshine vitamin—is what we receive from the sun that fights depression, among other diseases as well. You call vitamin D a gift from nature that fights your mental health issues when it’s sunny. So, if you have vitamin D deficiency, the dark clouds that keep the sun concealed for long can be quite hard on your mental health. It’s better to check your vitamin D levels to make sure the lack of sun doesn’t give you monsoon or winter blues.

Exercise to keep depression away

If you are looking for a reason to exercise, here’s one: it can fight seasonal depression and keep you mentally fit. According to a recent report by Harvard Medical School, exercise can help people suffering from mild or moderate depression. “For some people, it works as well as antidepressants, although exercise alone isn’t enough for someone with severe depression,” says Dr Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. It’s better to wear your running shoes when the sky is clear and it’s still daylight. So check the weather forecast and go for a run to keep the depressive thoughts at bay. Doing so will help you keep the winter blues at bay.

Pamper yourself

If you like pampering yourself every now and then, rainy and winter seasons give you another excuse to do so. Light candles, use essential oils, play soothing music, order your favourite dish, or take a warm bath. Whatever floats your boat, make the best of this time to show some self-love. You deserve it.

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