The severity of the winter blues can range from just overall feeling more sad/low energy/down to actually being its own form depression, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD primarily affects women, people with a family history of depression or bipolar disorder, and/or young adults. SAD has also been linked to difficulties in serotonin production and Vitamin D deficiency. Even without SAD, this time of the year can be unpleasant for many, simply due to decreased sunlight exposure.
When I was younger, I used to get incredibly sad around this time of year after Christmas and New Years. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but in fairness I now take Vitamin D and am on an antidepressant. I also live in the Southern United States and as a result, I am exposed to more sunlight and less snow than other parts of the world.
I still struggle with the winter blues in January especially, so I thought I would put together a post talking about coping with feeling down during these cold, gloomy months. I know for many people, the winter blues strikes even earlier than January– sometimes even as early as October.
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I am not a licensed medical professional nor a licensed mental health provider. Any content provided on The Vibrant Dreamer should not be used in lieu of professional advice or care. If you feel like you are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255 (US) or text HOME to 741741 (US). For a list of crisis hotlines in other countries, please click here.
How to Cope with the Winter Blues
Set New Goals
I love goal-setting because it gives you something to look forward to and keeps you pushing onwards. They don’t have to be drastic, life-changing goals unless you want them to be. They can literally be like… “Eat breakfast daily” or something of that nature, something you can achieve and will give you something to look forward to each day or however often you choose to do it. Setting smaller goals will help you feel more accomplished, especially when you don’t feel like doing anything.
Winter is the perfect time to snuggle up with a soft, comfortable fluffy blanket with a warm cup of hot cocoa, tea, or coffee. Cuddle your fur babies (if you have/like them) and get cozy with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or a good book. Not only is it fun, it can also help distract you from feeling sad.
I know the winter blues kind of make it difficult to stay motivated, but if you are physically able and can muster up the energy, exercise can help you feel better through the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. You don’t have to do anything intense– I like to walk about 30 minutes every few days and that’s it, but that’s enough to make me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Even just going outside and standing on your porch can help potentially.
It may seem tempting to isolate yourself, but that rarely leads to anything positive. Even if you’re just talking with online friends, having an outlet for what you’re feeling can help. Or you may not want to talk about the winter blues, and may prefer to focus on something more positive.
Take Care of Yourself
Carve some time out of your day for self-care. Doing small tasks like washing your face or brushing your teeth can help you feel a lot better.
Wake Up Earlier
If you can, try waking up earlier so that you can be exposed to more hours of daylight. This is something that has helped me immensely.
Do Something Creative
Get inspired! My blog is my creative outlet because I am NOT an artsy person and I’m terrible with my hands. You might like bullet journaling, drawing, painting, photography, sculpting… etc. Creating something that is your own to put into the world is incredibly rewarding and can provide a sense of purpose.
Speak With a Professional
Sometimes, you truly can’t manage your mental health on your own. If you feel like you’ve tried everything to manage the winter blues and nothing is helping, consider a consultation with a professional.
You can use the Psychology Today search tool to locate licensed mental health professionals in your area. This tool will show contact information, the price range, that provider’s specialities, and more. There is usually a small biography about the therapist’s background and current practice. I used this when I was searching for a therapist in 2018, and I still see her to this day.
I have also used BetterHelp in the past, and I did like it overall. I did find that it was out of my price range (at the time, it was about $179 per month) and that I prefer speaking with someone face-to-face. However, I do feel that it was beneficial for some short-term issues I was experiencing.
I hope this post was helpful to you! Let me know your tips for surviving the winter blues in the comments!
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