How Best to Manage Your Winter Blues in this Coming Winter
The long cold dark winter is upon us in a few weeks for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, and with it comes the dreaded blues. We in the UK are spared from the long polar nights of Scandinavia where the sun never shines. Surprisingly, a study shows the effects of winter in Scandinavia to be the exception to the rule. People in Southern Norway who have long winters suffer less winter depression than us. What is the secret? In one word ‘attitude’. A positive view of a situation can have a huge impact on one’s health and the Scandinavians have etched this into their hygge philosophy.
According to Lexico, Hygge means;
“A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.
It is therefore not surprising at all how the Scandinavians’ mood towards winter makes all the difference. To them their proverb “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes” summarises this positive outlook they have.
The scientific community refers to winter depression as “Seasonal affective disorder” or SAD in short whose ramifications include a plethora of symptoms such as;
- Persistent low mood
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness
- Low self-esteem
- Low Libido
- Unsociable tendency
Most of us are not even aware of this condition, despite the obvious effect it has on our general health. What makes this type of depression more daunting is that it is not limited to adults only but also impacts children. It is believed that about 2 million people suffer from this in the UK and about 12 million people in Europe. In the US the stats are similar, there are about 10 million people who suffer from SAD and another 10–20 percent of Americans suspected to suffer a mild form of the condition. Scientists believe that the cause of SAD is lack of sunlight which disrupts the normal function of the hypothalamus portion of the brain that is responsible for the control of crucial hormones such as stress hormones, the love hormone oxytocin responsible for social bonding and reproduction, etc.
Managing winter depression
According to the UK’s National Health Services, SAD is diagnosed by;
- Documenting the pattern of the depression
- On-Off intervals of the depression
The first thing to do with any health issue is to make your way to your general practitioner. However, nobody knows more than you do if you think you fall into the category of those with difficult winters. If that is the case, you could take the following steps to alleviate the symptoms:
- The old saying of “you are what you eat” is very relevant here. You will rarely come across anything health-related without healthy eating being the principal recommendation and it’s for good reason. A healthy diet will give you clarity, boost your energy, and improves your mood so eat a healthy balanced diet.
- What is worrying you? Identify your stress triggers. I know it’s easier said than done but what ticks you? Avoid your triggers and whilst at it, try to curb your toxic relationships. Something as simple as avoiding an argument could be the difference between a beautiful day and a depressing one.
- Invest your time in the things that add meaning to your life like reading, writing, or even volunteering. There are many elderly who would love to chat with someone, anyone. According to Patrick Svedin, director of the College of Development, volunteering and other charitable acts contribute to our happiness.
- Leverage your relationships. Talk to your loved ones and you may be surprised how happy they are to be there for you. This has the double benefit of mending and drawing relations even closer.
“Nothing unites two people so completely, especially if, like you and me, all they have is words.”
— Franz Kafka
5. There is no point in talking about anything health-related without making space for exercise. Studies show physical activities have immense benefits for mental health including SAD. Exercising aids in;
- improving mental health and mood
- boosting the immune system
- aiding to detoxify the body
- improving brain function etc
How we cope with winter depression depends mostly on factors surrounding our attitude and awareness of the conditions. We can work around some of the problems by adopting coping mechanisms such as ;
- Get sunlight if you can but substitute it with good lighting and ventilation where it is lacking.
- Spending more time in the things that bring you joy like taking long walks, adopting flexible routines such as reading, learning new concepts like meditation, meeting new people, etc.
- Using supplements like Vitamin D or taking Omega 3. Research shows that Vitamin D treatment is a cost-effective therapy and could improve the quality of life in people suffering from Winter depression.
All of the content provided are for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.