According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately half a million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in winter. Another 10 to 20% of the population suffers from mild winter blues. Yes, winter can have a severe effect on mood and cause depression. “SAD can affect your life to significant degrees.
Norman Rosenthal is an MD and author of winter blues: Everything you Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Asperger’s Disorder. SAD can affect your ability to think clearly and make informed decisions. However, it is treatable. These are 23 ways to get rid of seasonal depression quickly.
1. Keep to a regular sleep schedule
SAD sufferers often sleep more extended hours than usual or have difficulty getting up in the morning due to the dark hours. It is essential to have a healthy and regular sleep schedule in winter to combat seasonal depression.
How can you do this? “Reducing your exposure to blue light up to two hours before bed can help you keep your circadian rhythm strong and help you sleep better throughout the night,” says David J. Austern. Austern is a clinical assistant professor in psychiatry at NYU Langone Health.
2. A dawn simulator will help you get up in the morning
When the moon is still rising when you get up in the morning, it’s challenging to be a morning person. Light alarm clocks are also known as dawn alarm clocks, and these clocks mimic sunlight and gradually get brighter to entice you from slumber.
Light alarm clocks are different from regular ones that use loud sounds to wake you, but they use soothing music or nature calls to help you fall asleep. Rosenthal says that the light can “pass through your eyelids, tricking your brain into believing it’s summer.”
3. Use a light tbox
Lightbox therapy is a treatment for SAD that provides artificial sunlight to imitate sunlight. Rosenthal states that light therapy is an essential treatment for SAD. When the sun is at its lowest, people are most affected during this time. “Days are short, and darkness is constant. Therefore, it’s possible to replace medicine with light therapy. It is very effective and can reverse symptoms efficiently and reliably.
Lightboxes are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). You should talk to your doctor about what you should look for when buying one. Many devices claim to be lightboxes but are not. You can have your doctor advise you on how long you should use the lightbox and when it is most effective.
4. Take a walk outside when the sun is shining
Although sunlight can be great for seasonal depression, walking can also help you feel better. You increase oxygen flow to your brain and release serotonin with every step, and this neurotransmitter is responsible for controlling your mood.
Rosenthal states that going for a walk can be a great way to get light exercise and provide some fresh air. People are often hesitant to get outside in the cold. But that shouldn’t stop them from getting fresh air.
5. Maintain a regular exercise program
It is essential to stick to your fitness routine during the winter months. This is not only for your health but also for beating seasonal depression. Austin says, “We know exercise is good for mood, anxiety and depression.” It can help with SAD if people exercise regularly.
Group fitness classes are an excellent way for people to get together and prevent loneliness and isolation.
6. Yoga classes are available
You can indeed do downward dog to reduce stress and increase happiness. A 2017 study in Frontiers In Human Neuroscience found that meditation and yoga can reduce stress levels and improve well-being. Yoga can also be beneficial for depression symptoms, according to some research.
There are many styles of yoga. Make sure you sign up for the one that best suits your interests and skills. You can also visit your local yoga studio to learn more about their classes.
7. Aromatherapy can help you manage stress levels
It’s crucial to make time for self-care if you suffer from seasonal depression. You can take a warm bath, relax before bed, and indulge in aromatherapy using essential oils.
Rosenthal claims that citrus and orange scents can increase energy and that some research, such as this 2017 study in the Mental Health Clinician, has shown that lavender essential oils can calm anxious people.
8. Enjoy a day at the spa
You’re about to book that massage or facial you’ve been wanting. Spas can be a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
A meta-analysis published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2010 concluded that massage therapy might be able to reduce depression symptoms. A 60-minute massage session is well worth it for its mood-boosting benefits.
9. Use light colours to brighten up your living spaces
You can also brighten the winter months by decorating your home using light-coloured furniture, throw pillows and rugs, and flowers.
Rosenthal suggests that you paint your walls white or light neutral tones if you are willing to make significant changes. This will help to reflect light and brighten your space, and it can also combat seasonal depression.
10. To reflect light, hang mirrors
This is a great way to combat seasonal depression and increase your home’s aesthetic appeal. Mirrors can be used to brighten dark corners in your home by reflecting light through windows.
11. Bring a touch of hygge to your home
Hygge is the Danish art and practice of being cosy. It’s about accepting winter and enjoying the warmth it brings. If you’re feeling down, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Denmark were all listed in the 2019 World Happiness Report as the happiest places. You can hygge by lighting candles, sharing a meal with your friends, or slipping on fuzzy socks.
12. Spend a night with your friends
Socializing is crucial when trying to overcome seasonal depression. People who feel depressed don’t feel connected to the world. Eastern states that people feel isolated and avoid doing things that make them feel happy.
Instead of avoiding socializing with the world, go to a party, schedule a date night with your partner or host a dinner party with friends. You’ll be amazed at how much it can lift your mood.
13. Upbeat music available
You can combat seasonal depression by simply listening to your favourite mood-enhancing playlist. Researchers found that upbeat music can help us see the positive in the world, according to a study published in PLOS One.
14. Enjoy a good book
A book can be a great way to distract yourself from negative thoughts. A winter day spent indoors can be as enjoyable as a book-turning experience.
A 2017 study in The Arts in Psychotherapy found that colouring and drawing can improve mood if reading is not enough.
15. Discover a new winter sport
Now is the best time to get on the ice and ski this winter. Winter sports can help you feel better by increasing your exposure to sunlight, getting more exercise, and allowing for social interaction.
16. Get a new look for yourself
Sometimes, all you need to feel great is a new sweater, and a shirt that you love and feel great in can boost confidence.
17. Watch a funny movie
A good movie is the best way to get your spirits up after a long day. Even if you feel down, a comedy might be a good choice. A 2017 Journal of Leisure Research study found that laughing for 20 minutes effectively boosted mood as a 20-minute aerobics session. The giggle session did more to alleviate anxiety symptoms than the exercise!
18. Plan a weekend getaway in nature
A weekend getaway can help seasonal depression to a bed and breakfast or a cosy cabin. Do you only have one day? To enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of the natural world, take a walk through the woods.
A 2019 paper in the International Journal of Biometeorology reveals that forest bathing, which involves taking deep, long breaths in the woods, can significantly reduce stress levels by lowering blood pressure, heartbeat, and cortisol.
19. Take a vacation in the sun
Take a short trip to warmer and sunnier places to escape the winter blues causing seasonal depression. You can feel more relaxed and rejuvenated by getting some sun on your skin while taking a break from the stresses of life. A 2010 study in Applied Research in Quality of Life found that looking forward to a vacation can lift spirits.
20. Stay true to your goals
Seasonal depression can be overcome by setting goals and making concrete plans to achieve them. Researchers found that significant depression sufferers benefited from positive outlooks and motivational interventions in a 2019 study published by the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.
It’s easier said than done. First, write down what you want to accomplish in the following weeks, months, or years. Then, you can begin to identify what you can do to reach each goal.
21. Volunteer your time
It’s incredible how much you can help others in need. Volunteer opportunities are available at your local soup kitchen and animal shelter. Reach out to the organizers of any charity or cause particular to you to learn what you can do. This returns to Rosenthal and Austin’s earlier emphasis on staying connected and socially engaged in society.
22. Therapy is an option
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help with seasonal depression, can be a great option. It will change your thinking and behaviour to make you feel better. Austin says that negative thoughts about the environment and themselves can trigger negative emotions.
Rosenthal also said that SAD could be linked to behaviour. You can make seasonal depression worse by covering your head in bed every morning.
23. Discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking antidepressants
Your doctor might prescribe antidepressants to treat SAD once you have been diagnosed. Psychotherapy with no medication may be okay if your depression is mild.
Rosenthal states that antidepressants should be considered if you have severe depression. Even if you only need it for a brief time, medication can help to balance hormones and restore your mood.