What do you feel when you experience winter gloom?
The combination of the cool weather that characterizes the season with the few hours of sunshine, may cause a feeling of fatigue, heaviness, lack of motivation and sometimes also an increased feeling of sadness. When dealing with winter blues, you experience mood swings and may feel more miserable than usual. Despite this, it is still possible to enjoy life and daily functioning is almost unimpaired. For example, people suffering from this condition manage to maintain a level of functioning at work and care for the family.
The steps that will help you deal with the depressive feeling
Lifestyle changes and self-care routines can lead to a significant improvement in mood during the winter months. Here are some things that can help in dealing with the feelings:
Look for the sun
The sun is an unlimited source of vitamin D, which is essential for the regulation of the biological clock (“cicardial rhythm”). Exposure to sunlight can help raise energy levels and improve mood. A trip, a walk or just being outside during daylight hours can significantly affect our mood.
Adopt a regular sleep and wake routine
If you go to bed at the same time every day and also get up in the morning at a fixed time, you will most likely wake up refreshed and energetic and less likely to feel tired throughout the day.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are known to improve mood and energy. Moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, 5 times a week, can improve your energy levels and mood. Exercising outdoors is even more recommended, as it allows you to breathe fresh air, soak up the sunlight and enjoy nature.
Make sure you have a balanced diet
When it’s cold outside, many of us crave sweet foods and simple carbohydrates, which can lead to feeling tired. Try to incorporate whole grains and fresh produce into your diet on a daily basis. These will contribute to a higher level of satiety and help avoid less recommended snacks.
Keep in touch with friends
A healthy social support system is important all year round, and especially during the winter when we tend to shut down. Cultivating the relationship with friends helps to feel connected and can encourage us to get out of the house. Whether it’s cooking together, going on a trip or going out on the town – spending time with friends and loved ones can definitely help improve the mood.
What do you do if all the advice doesn’t help?
When coping becomes more difficult, and you experience a significant decrease in the level of functioning, social withdrawal and impaired ability to enjoy things that used to be enjoyable – it is possible that this is a mental disorder, defined as “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This disorder affects approximately 4-6 percent of the population. It is sometimes accompanied by suicidal thoughts, which requires immediate professional intervention. The symptoms of SAD can include a change in appetite, weight gain, a feeling of heaviness in the hands or feet, decreased energy level, excessive fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability and avoidance of social situations. In addition, SAD May also include some of the symptoms present in other types of depression, such as feelings of guilt, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or physical problems such as headaches and stomach aches.
If you suffer from such symptoms, it is important that you get diagnosed – today there are various therapeutic solutions that can help you.The author is Avichai Young, an expert clinical psychologist, director of the mental health clinic of the “Beit Ham” association in Modi’in Elit