The colder temperatures and shorter days of winter can cause many people to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 15 percent of people experience at least a mild form of SAD. Thankfully, this is a treatable condition, and one that you can remedy in fun and entertaining ways. Here are four practices that can help you avoid the winter blues:
1. Get outside
Reduced light and outside activity during winter are big contributors to SAD. However, just because it's a little colder out doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the outdoors. Avoid the winter blues by using the snow to your advantage - this is the perfect opportunity to spend time with your family by going sledding or building a snowman. The brisk air will clear your mind, and the sunlight you receive will increase your vitamin D levels, which are often depleted during the cold months.
2. Be social
It can be tempting to go into hibernation when snow is on the ground. Netflix is a temptress that can pull you to the couch for months on end, but this sort of reclusion can contribute to the effects of SAD. Instead of falling into this trap, plan some social events for the next few months. This could involve hosting dinner parties for friends and family or simply going on a few dates with your partner.
Winter is also the perfect time to join a new group or organization. You probably aren't as busy as you are in the summer, so attend that writers' group you've been eyeing or take those ballroom dancing classes you've been wanting. These fun activities give you an excuse to get out of the house, and you can learn a new skill!
3. Exercise more
It's easy to become sedentary during winter - exercise routines usually go through a bit of a slump. However, you can switch up your regular workout plan for at-home options. For example, instead of bundling up to hit the gym, find a video exercise program you like online or on DVD and start working on it. You'll still get a good workout in, and it lets you stay out of the cold.
4. Reduce stress
Stress is something you have to deal with all year long, but it can be particularly detrimental during winter. Find ways to reduce anxiety during these cold months by having more fun. The first step toward a stress-free environment is recognizing the stressors in your life - this could be anything from working too often to unsupportive relationships. Whatever the case, once you know what is causing your anxiety, you can work to minimize its impact on your life.
Another way you can reduce stress is by meditating and practicing relaxation techniques. If you're not sure how to do this, take a yoga class. Yoga practices will teach you how to focus on your mind and body and provide you with a wonderful way to relax. In addition, you'll be getting your daily exercise, so it has multiple benefits.
If you think you might be feeling some of the effects of SAD, make sure your medical health insurance is up-to-date and visit a doctor. A health professional will be able to diagnose your condition and help you determine what actions need to be taken.