After the chaos of the holidays, most people are looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the clean slate of a brand new year. However, many individuals report symptoms of depression in the weeks following the holidays, which, in some cases, is known as seasonal affective disorder. This condition is defined as feelings of depression brought on by the colder, shorter days of winter and often produces symptoms like the following:
- Mood swings.
- Weight gain and changes in appetite.
- Frequent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and/or anxiety.
- Mental and physical sluggishness.
- Decreased energy.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
While these symptoms can be overwhelming, there are several ways to improve psychological health during the winter. The five following tips will help reduce the symptoms of winter depression while increasing overall health and quality of life.
In the battle against depression, exercise is a powerful ally. Plus, beginning the new year with healthy new lifestyle habits can be a catalyst for lifelong fitness and improved health. Exercise fights the blues by upping the body’s production of endorphins, which are chemicals that improve mood, increase energy and promote all-around feelings of happiness and well-being.
Although the winter months may not be the best time for outdoor workouts, there are plenty of exercises that can be performed indoors. In addition to gym memberships, other great options include Pilates, dance workouts and aerobics.
2. Take Up a Hobby
The winter months are the perfect time to pick up new hobbies and pastimes. This can include creative endeavors like art classes, writing workshops and crafting as well as intellectual hobbies like book clubs or college courses.
Any type of activity can help fight depression by keeping the mind and body occupied. Also, classes, groups and workshops are great places to meet new people, and making new friends with similar interests can significantly improve symptoms of depression.
3. Have Some Winter Fun
While winter can be a difficult season psychologically, it also provides lots of opportunities for outdoor fun. For example, snowboarding, skiing, sledding and other winter activities fight depression in a number of ways.
First of all, being outdoors is essential to a balanced mood because it increases exposure to the vitamin D found in sunlight. This is important due to the fact that vitamin D deficiencies are common among individuals who suffer from depression.
Sunlight also increases the body’s production of serotonin, which is a chemical responsible for stabilizing mood and emotions. Secondly, like any type of exercise, outdoor winter activities can fight depression, promote healthy sleep patterns and improve overall mood.
4. Maintain Relationships
Isolation is common among people with depression. Instead of maintaining relationships and committing to social engagements, depressed individuals often choose to spend time alone. Plus, depression can also lead to difficulties in both personal and professional relationships.
This is severely counterproductive to mental health and can lead to a rapid worsening of symptoms. For this reason, making an effort to remain social is essential in treating depression and its symptoms.
5. Eat Healthy
Diet can play a major role in psychological health. In the treatment of depression, studies show that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and low in fat and calories can help. Sufficient intake of nutrients can promote better overall body function as well as improved mental clarity.
Foods that may worsen depression include starches, fats and sugars. Processed meals and snacks may also have a negative impact on psychological health. These foods are full of potentially harmful chemicals like preservatives and artificial sweeteners and contain very little nutritional content.
- License: Creative Commons image source
This is a guest post. Keith Wardlaw is a family counselor and guest author at Christian Degrees, where he has contributed helpful guides to finding affordable and convenient online Christian degree options.