Though winter officially arrives in late December, many parts of the country don’t begin to feel its effects until well into January. Shorter days, plummeting temperatures, and icy conditions can make us want to retreat into the warmth of our homes until spring returns. Some people let this state of self-imposed hibernation turn into what is popularly known as “the Winter Blues.” Also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, the blues, according to Wikipedia, typically manifest in people who have “normal mental health throughout most of the year, but experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.”
How to deal with depression during the winter
While I’ve never succumbed to feeling down and out due to the winter doldrums, I can certainly relate to feeling low in the midst of a string of rainy days that provided little reason to go outside and socialize with the rest of the world. For me, the key to beating blues of any kind comes down to two things – being intentional about maintaining relationships and getting enough exercise.
Maintaining relationships during the darkest part of the year can be as simple as sending one text a day to someone in your list of contacts. A brief note asking how they are and if they’d like to catch up soon is all it takes to keep friendships afloat. If time and inclination permit, consider sending a greeting card to friends who live in far-off places. (Everyone likes receiving handwritten notes in the mail, after all. It will definitely brighten your day, no matter what the weather forecast indicates.) That practice has even prompted me to start building a collection of unique greeting cards so that I have the perfect one to send for just about any occasion.
Maintaining exercise routines can be truly challenging when temps are below freezing and the wind and other elements just won’t let up. I’ve played tennis for years and have found it be a great way to get in shape and get a bit of socializing in with my teammates. (Working from home makes this a big plus!) I typically don’t play in between fall and spring seasons; this year, however, I decided to make an effort to get out on the court in between seasons to keep my skills sharp and my spirits up. Team camaraderie definitely builds when you’re all out there playing matches in near-freezing conditions. (Plus, it’s given me a great excuse to buy new winter tennis attire.)
Find ways to exercise to fight depression
My tennis schedule is of course dictated by the weather, and so when it rains I make a special effort to exercise in five-minute bursts during my typical workday. While there are quite a few apps out there that offer varying timed workouts, I have come to rely on a series of exercises I found in Woman’s Day magazine. Given that I spend most of my day sitting, these short workouts done a few times a day prevent my energy level from bottoming out by the time 5 o’clock rolls around.
Finally, and this is a bonus, I’ve been following along with the “365 Days to #RockYourHappy” movement created by lifestyle bloggers Bree Hester and Kristen Doyle. Via weekly email, each day of the month comes with a suggested way to easily make yourself happy. Examples that I’ve indulged in include “read a magazine,” “snuggle,” “buy yourself flowers,” and “watch the sunrise.” This month, I’m especially looking forward to “nap time” and “chocolate,” (totally justified by all that exercise I’m getting).
In short, don’t let the winter blues get you down. Indulge in friendships, be intentional about your fitness routine, and don’t hesitate to spoil yourself in little ways on a daily basis. And don’t forget – spring is just around the corner.