Our well-being can be influenced by the weather. In the winter, colder weather and shorter days can bring about the “winter blues”. This is a general mild term, not a medical diagnosis. The winter blues usually clear up on their own. Symptoms of this include sadness and irritability, trouble concentrating, oversleeping and low energy, as well as increased appetite.
This is not uncommon for people to experience during the winter months. In fact, about 14 percent of Americans experience the winter blues. By making some lifestyle modifications the winter blues can be managed and maintained. If you are feeling mild to moderate symptoms focus on nutrition, exercise, sleep, and relaxation.
-Eat a healthy diet. Whole grains can boost your energy. Fruits and veggies also have nutrients that can promote an overall better mood.
-Go outside. With winter, comes less time outside which means less time in the sun. The sun helps balance serotonin activities, as well as increases melatonin production.
-Try the 10x10x10 Rule. Studies show even a light workout can raise endorphins. If you are feeling unmotivated to get moving, set a goal to walk 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes before it gets dark.
-Spend time with friends or family. Reach out to friends and family to talk on the phone, go on a walk, or have a virtual game night.
–Prioritize sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is essential for your overall health.
-Start a new indoor hobby. If you are used to doing things outdoors every day, try finding indoor activities you enjoy. Such as puzzling, playing games, cooking, or even growing an indoor garden.
There is nothing wrong with feeling sad or down from time to time. Having emotions is what makes us human. If you are experiencing sadness and lack of motivation during winter months, it could be a sign of winter blues. But it is important to note if your sadness is interfering with your day-to-day functioning, it could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with SAD may exhibit signs of major depressive disorder. If you do notice your symptoms, or if you notice a loved one’s symptoms are getting severe, help is available.
The changing seasons can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Try implementing small changes into your everyday routine if you are feeling the effects of the winter blues. If these aren’t working for you seek support from a medical professional to find what works best for you.
Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January of 2020, coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.