Do you feel different in the cooler darker months, than you do in the warmer sunnier months? I get it, I’ve been there. In fact I still need to be mindful of my lifestyle practices and routine in the winter, much more so than I do in the summer time, or warmer months.
If you live in a place that sees less sunlight in the winter time, you may get occasional bouts of Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as ‘The Winter Blues’. For some people, the challenges it presents are constant and unrelenting, for others it varies from year to year and month to month.
December is the darkest month, at least in many of the Northern climates, which means it is one of the more challenging months to live through, if you have even mild SAD symptoms. Even if you live as far south as Florida, you still will not get the vitamin D that is required for optimal functioning of the body, in the winter months. (Vitamin D depletion is said to be one of the reasons why people get SAD symptoms. Since we get vitamin D largely from the sun, we can become depleted in the winter when we are not getting enough exposure to sunlight).
Let’s first review some of the symptoms of SAD:
What to do if you suffer from some or many of these symptoms in the winter?
Over the years of experimenting with many things to manage seasonal blues, I have noticed that diet (more on this in a minute), exercise (even a simple rigorous walk outside is helpful), and socializing with friends and family, are the three things that help me the most in the winter. Other people mention things like staying warm, buying a SAD lamp (they do not have to be expensive to improve mood), and taking up a new hobby, to be helpful for them. Actually I would say all of the above are also important for me.
Here are a few other tips that you may or may not have thought about:
More importantly than any of these suggestions, be gentle with yourself if you are unable to do as much, or be as ‘sparkly’, as you are in the summertime. Winter is meant to be a time to hibernate a little, to catch up on much needed R&R, and to go inward more than we might otherwise.
Just because our culture does not teach us these things, does not mean that we cannot guide the way for others, through our demonstration of this behavior. We owe it to ourselves, friends, family, and children to demonstrate the way towards a more heart-centered approach to living. This begins with proper self-care, especially when we are not feeling our best.
Go ahead and nurture yourself today and see how that uplifts you as we move through the darkest time of the year.
P.S. Leave a comment below if you would like to share with me your favorite strategy for managing the winter blues, or if you have any questions on this subject. I’d love to hear.