With less daylight, colder temperatures, and more rainy days, it's common to experience some of the 'winter blues'.
For some people, winter brings about seasonal depression. Here are some ways to fight the winter blues. Image courtesy of Irum Shahid/sxc.hu
But for some people, this time of year is harder. Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect people during the winter months. While it's always best to chat with your doctor to help determine whether or not your depression is season-related, how do you know when your depression is severe enough to warrant a trip to the doctor?
Typical symptoms of depression can include consistent feelings of general sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness as well as lack of energy or feeling slowed down.
Trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep can also be a sign, as is changes in appetite and/or weight, inability to make decisions or concentrate. Restlessness, loss of interest in people or activities you once enjoyed can also be a red flag.
Trouble falling asleep or heavily disturbed sleep can be a sign of depression or seasonal affective disorder. Image courtesy of Vangelis Thomaidis/sxc.hu
If you are experiencing these symptoms it's always best to refer to your doctors advice, however, if you don't have severe symptoms of depression but are simply feeling blue this season, there are things you can do to lift your spirits, such as:
Put on your gym shoes and go for a walk, head to the gym or walk the dog.Image courtesy of Fleur Suijten/sxc.hu
Exercise Make it a priority to get exercise. On the rare sunny winter days, go outside and take a brisk walk so you get the mood benefits of sunlight as well as exercise.
Take your dog for a walk or set aside time to be at the gym to ensure you get an endorphin kick. Even something as simple as running an errand during your lunch break can make a difference.
Vitamin levels, particularly vitamin D can significantly decrease in winter months. Image courtesy Gazi Kutluer/sxc.hu
Take a daily vitamin. In particular, levels of vitamin D decrease significantly. Research has linked the vitamin, which comes from sunlight as well as some foods such as seafood and mushrooms, to lower rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even anxiety and depression. As most people spend more time indoors during winter, we often aren't getting enough.
It's also important to stay well-hydrated by drinking water whenever you feel thirsty.
Something as simple as sitting close to a window when the sun is out an be a boost to your mood. Image courtesy MG Aber/sxc.hu
Grab a window seat. When the sun is out, do your work by a window. Lamps aren't the only source of light in winter months. Try moving your desk near a window or moving your favourite reading chair closer to a window- it can help. Even a cloudy day offers far more natural light than indoor spaces.
If you feel you need to speak with a professional about depression, please contact Beyond Blue for immediate help and support 24 hours a day:Beyond Blue Get Support